Money trees, named after the coins in their branches, providing a promise of eternal wealth and happiness in the afterlife, are generally dated to the Eastern Han period.
Refer to the example excavated in 1972 from Pengshan county, Sichuan province, now in the Sichuan Provincial Museum, Chengdu and illustrated by Jessica Rawson in the Catalogue of the exhibition, Mysteries of China, British Museum, London, 1996, p. 177, no. 87. Another intact example in the Xianyang Museum, is illustrated in Gems of China's Cultural Relics, Beijing, 1997, pl. 82.
Another with bear-form struts similar to the present lot, from the Herman Herzog Levy collection, is illustrated in Royal Ontario Museum: The T.T. Tsui Galleries of Chinese Art, Toronto, 1996, no. 44. See, also, the base of a money tree with a similar elephant procession in the Sichuan Provincial Museum illustrated by Wu Hung in Monumentality in Early Chinese Art and Architecture, Stanford, 1995, p. 141, fig. 2.60b.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. C298c74 is consistent with the dating of this lot.