27 May 2008
A FINELY CARVED 'LOTUS-LEAF' RHINOCEROS HORN LIBATION CUP
MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
Carved in delicate detail as a large veined lotus leaf enveloped around the flared sides with leaves and three lotus blossoms rising from stalks tied together by a ribbon forming the base, the handle formed by a stalk of millet resting on the rim of the cup, the material of a light caramel tone, darkening at the core
6 in. (15.3 cm.) across, wood stand, box
Weight: 5.1 oz. (147 gm.)
Acquired at auction in New York, 1983
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T. Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 147, no.97
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth: Gems of Antiquities Collection in Hong Kong, 2002-2005
The lotus, he is a homonym for 'peace' and the ear of grain, sui is homonymous with the word for 'year'. Together they signify the wish for living harmoniously year after year.
Although rising from a muddy pond, lotus blossoms have long been noted for their uncontaminated beauty representing the pure and elevated character of the virtuous gentleman. The theme appealed greatly to the literati during the late Ming and was used on a variety of scholar's objects.
Compare a lotus form cup with the stalks similarly bound together by a ribbon to form the handle from the Paul and Helen Bernat Collection sold at Christie's New York, 2 December 1993, lot 9 and again 22 March 2007, lot 146.
Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory, tortoiseshell and crocodile. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.
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