In the catalogue entry for an earlier jade carving of a boy and buffalo in Chinese Jades From Han to Ch'ing, no. 47, James Watt writes that "Boys riding on ch'ing-pai porcelain water-droppers of the Yuan period often hold ears of rice, ho, in their hands, a pun for ho meaning harmony." In the entry for no. 46 (ibid.), he states that the "subject of a boy on a buffalo made its first appearance in the art of the Southern Song period." Apart from appearing in paintings, ceramic and bronze forms, the subject of the buffalo and its boy minder also can be found in jade carvings from the Yuan dynasty through to the Qing.
Compare the present carving to an earlier Ming dynasty celadon jade group of similar composition, included in the Min Chiu Society Thirtieth Anniversary Exhibition, Selected Treasures of Chinese Art, 1991, illustrated in the Catalogue, no. 219; and an early Qing dynasty white jade group from the Gerald Godfrey Private Collection of Fine Chinese Jades, sold in these Rooms, 30 October 1995, lot 893.