This powerful, minimally carved block, is characteristic of stone animal carvings of the Shang dynasty. Compare a similarly abstract marble buffalo of slightly smaller size (21 cm. long), also dated to the Shang dynasty, in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sedgwick, London, illustrated in the Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935-36, Royal Academy of Arts, London, no. 268A. Another, of even more simplified form, and smaller size (6 in. long), is illustrated in the catalogue of An Exhibition of Chinese Stone Sculptures, C.T. Loo & Co., New York, 1941, no. 4, pl. II (bottom). The general shape of this latter sculpture is similar to that of the present and Sedgwick water buffalos, but the area of the legs is only implied, and if there had been any facial features they have been worn away.
A related white marble buffalo, of similar shape and size (25 cm. long), excavated from the Shang dynasty tomb of the Lady Hao at Yinxu in Anyang, is illustrated in Yinxu Fu Hao mu, Beijing, 1980, pl. CLXXIV (1). Unlike the present figure, the Fu Hao buffalo has more defined facial features, and angular scrolls carved on the body, traits which relate it to jade carvings also found in the tomb, such as a seated bear, water buffalo and tiger, illustrated pl. CLXXV (2-4).
Technical examination report available upon request.