27 May 2008
A RARE AND SUPERBLY CARVED RHINOCEROS HORN LIBATION CUP LATE MING/EARLY QING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
Carved in the form of an archaic bronze vessel with three flanges bridging wide central key-fret bands, the deep flared sides rising to a curved rim elaborately decorated in high relief with forty-eight mythical beasts including dragon, phoenix, elephants and chilong, several vigorously depicted climbing over the rim to the interior, the handle formed by two powerful large dragons spanning the length of the cup along the side, one of which extends over the edge of the rim peering over the side, the deeply inset base carved in high relief with a coiled dragon, the material of an attractive golden amber tone
6 5/8 in. (16.7 cm.) across, wood stand, box
Weight: 11.9 oz. (339 gm.)
Annie R. Bird, Kansas City, Missouri
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T. Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 62, no. 15.
Hong Kong Museum of Art, Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth: Gems of Antiquities Collection in Hong Kong, 2002-2005
Previously sold at Sotheby's New York, 23 April 1987, lot 285.
The carver has gone to great lengths to depict each of the mythical creatures in individual detail and with great vigour, even carrying the theme to the bottom of the cup with an unusual dragon roundel.
A bowl from the Edward and Franklin Chow collections illustrated by J. Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 155, pl. 189 shares the same intricate design of dragons continuing on the base with a dragon roundel.
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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