Jade carvings of buffalo have traditionally been greatly prized in China. The Asiatic ox or buffalo is one of the twelve horary animals representing Chou, the second of the twelve branches of the Chinese calendrical system. Buffaloes are associated with strength, prosperity and tranquility in China, in part because of their role in farming and the production of food. In addition, the romanticised view of the buffalo had resonance for Chan Buddhists and Daoists alike, suggesting retreat into a tranquil rural life, away from the cities and the responsibilities of public office.
Compare with an Imperial inscribed white jade example in the Andrew K.F. Lee Collection, illustrated in the exhibition Virtuous Treasures - Chinese Jades for the Scholar's Table, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, 2007, Catalogue, p. 168. pl. 95; another greenish white jade example with a boy on the buffalo's back and of slightly smaller size is in the collection of the Beijing Art Museum, illustrated in Jade, Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series, Beijing, 2002, p. 190, pl. 221.
Examples of large white jade buffalo include one sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30 October 2000, lot 692. An exceptionally large Imperial white jade buffalo from the Dutch Nolthenius family was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2009, lot 2009.