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A RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE MYTHICAL BEAST CENSER
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE MYTHICAL BEAST CENSER

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A RARE SILVER-INLAID BRONZE MYTHICAL BEAST CENSER LATE MING/EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY The archaistic mythical beast is finely cast standing foursquare, its cervine head held majestically forward looking, the wide arched mouth slightly agape, eyes protruding below horn-like eyebrows, before a pair of straight horns, each with heart-shaped finials, the eyebrows and cheeks inlaid with silver-wire to render scrolling foliage, repeated on parts of the body, legs, and on the decorative collar encircling the neck, supporting on its back a removable openwork cover with a bird-head finial, the underside inlaid with gold wire the three characters, Song Yi zuo, 'Made by Song Yi' 7 5/8 in (19.4 cm.) high, wood stand

Lot Essay

The present mythical beast is in imitation of Warring States wine vessels that are decorated with inlaid silver and gold wires. It is interesting to note that archaic bronze shapes were reproduced in metalwork during the Song period as early bronzes were greatly admired by Emperor Huizong who himself had an extensive collection. The tradition of producing these archaic forms appears to have continued, albeit intermittently, well into the late Ming to early Qing period. For a comparable vessel, see H. Moss, Arts from the Scholar's Studio, 1986, p. 154, no. 127, dated Song to late Ming dynasty.

The name Song Yi inscribed on the underbelly of the present animal is a designation of the artist and the name does not appear to have been published.

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