Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Date: 18th to 19th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Light green.
Dimensions: H. 17.5 cm; W. 14.5 cm; D. 8.5 cm.

The delicate colour of the jade is enhanced by the fineness of the workmanship, which easily allows light to penetrate the stone.

The rhyton or drinking cup rises from the back of a lion.  Both sides of the cup depict the shou character for longevity carved in low-relief, and framed by scrolls also carved in low-relief.  The lip of the vessel has a delicate curl with a fine scroll protruding just underneath.  A sinewy dragon crawls up the back with its front paws holding onto the edge of the cup.  Another dragon, with a very long bifurcated tail, stands on the side edge of the cup with head turned backwards and a long beard touching the middle of its back.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013



Period: Zhou dynasty (c. 1050 - 221 BC).
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Light green.
Kneeling zoomorphic figure: H. 17 cm; W. 18 cm; D. 8 cm.
Kneeling figure with child: H. 23.5 cm; W. 7.5 cm; D. 13 cm.
Kneeling horned figure: H. 13 cm; W. 6 cm; D. 12 cm.






Period: Han dynasty ( 206 BC - 220 AD).
Date: Possibly Western Han period (206 BC - AD 9)..
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Pale green with yellow and brown.
Dimensions: H. 11 cm; W. 12.5 cm; D. 11.7 cm.

The rounded bowl-shaped vessel has a domed lid with a hollowed knob. The overall workmanship is very fine.

The lid has three zones of patterns. The first section, just below the knob displays fine scrolls separated by three small dragons carved in the round. This is followed by six rows of raised spirals connected by incised lines. The section forming the edge of the lid has a band of c-shaped scrolls divided into six sections by a narrow band above and below forming a cross between each. The same pattern goes around the bowl.

The bowl has four zones of patterns. The first is a scrolling pattern, followed by a band of c-shaped scrolls, followed by seven rows of raised and linked spirals, divided into six framed sections. Three animal heads protrude around the perimeter. A row of lotus petals decorates the base of the bowl and the bottom is flat.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Period: Tang dynasty (AD 618 - 906).
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Yellowish-green with patches of brown.
Dimensions: H. 24.8 cm; W. 11 cm; D. 11 cm.

The colour has altered considerably.  When viewing this piece with the light through it the colour is a pale yellowish-green with patches of brown.

The lid is crowned by a three-dimensional carving of a warrior on horseback attacking another warrior with a spear.  The fallen warrior protects himself with a sword and shield.  A band of  clouds below them with an animal head decorating each alternate corner.

The body of the container has a similar cloud pattern at the top and the panels of the hexagon depict warriors on horseback.  Three warriors, each carrying shields and swords, form the legs of the container.  Between each is a taotie or animal mask.


Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Date: 18th to 19th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Light green and russet.
Dimensions: H. 20 cm., W. 18 cm., D. 8 cm.

The carving is beautifully executed showing a large and a small citron together. Each is hollowed out to show the finger-like tendrils of the fruit twisting and curling. The thick rind of the fruit shows the rough pitted surface.  A cricket sits on the top -- crickets are much admired for their songs.

The citron belongs to the citrus family. It is known by the Chinese name of foshou which literally means “Buddha's Hand”. It is one of the “three abundances” and symbolises happiness and longevity. The other two are the peach and the pomegranite. The peach or tao symbolises marriage, spring, justice and Daoist immortality. The pomegranate or shiliu represents fertility, offspring and descendants.


Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Date: 18th to 19th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Celadon and russet.
Demensions: H. 17 cm.; L. 23.5 cm.; D. 8 cm.

The large piece of nephrite jade has been carved to look like a hollow pine log.  The front displays pine trees, their roots clinging to the surface, with vines hanging off them.  A sage, with his attendant carrying a musical instrument, shelters under the trees.

Saturday, May 25, 2013



Period: Western Han period (206 BC - AD 9).
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Yellowish green.
Dimensions: H. 19 cm.; W. 13 cm.; D. 9.5 cm.

The rhyton or drinking cup is very elegant.  It is designed in the form of a phoenix with wings uplifted to gently hold the cup.  The mouth flares open with a delicate curl at the back and another flowing from the mouth of the vessel.

The entire cup is covered in low-relief patterns of delicate curls and spirals.

A sinuous mythical horned animal with a bifurcated tail crawls up the back of the cup and curlicues protrude down from the curling lip.

Friday, May 24, 2013



Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Date: 18th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Greyish white, pale to bright celedon and russet tonings.
Dimensions: L. 23 cm.; H. 12 cm.; W. 7 cm.

The oblong box on short legs is carved with archaistic patterns.  It is said that Emperor Qianlong admired archaic jades to the point of ordering his jade workshop to produce jades with patterns which emulated the art of the past.  Archaism represented ancient traditions and honoured the past.

The patterns on the box are inspired by the taotie, dragons and birds of a much earlier era, but have a distinct air of the period in which they were produced.  The taotie depicted here has none of the fierceness of the original designs of the early bronzes, but is a much more benign creature.  The dragons and birds are of a stylized form.

A beautifully carved crenelated ridge runs right across the middle of the box; a feature used in the early bronze and jade art of China.


Period: Spring and Autumn to early Warring States period.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Light green with patches of brown.
Dimensions: H. 20 cm.; L. 23 cm.; D. 7.3 cm.

The bull is carrying what appear to be three lidded containers.  However, the body is completely hollowed so that whatever was added through the holes was combined within the body.

The three lids are connected by a mythical winged beast.  The mouth of the beast is open, perhaps in a growl, and its tail ends in the head of a bird.

The body of the bull is covered in elaborate low-relief carving of taotie and birds.

Several areas display bird script, also carved in low relief.

A bronze vessel of similar form was apparently found around 1923.  Unfortunately I cannot lay my hands on the details, but will add to this if I do find them.

The bronze zun vessel is on the web site and is dated to the Spring and Autumn period (c.771 - 476 BC).  It is housed in the Shanghai Museum and was thought to have been used for warming wine.  It has no lid.  The dimensions of this vessel are - H. 33.7 cm.; L. 58.7 cm.


Thursday, May 23, 2013


Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Date: 18th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Yellowish green.
Dimensions: H. 17.5 cm.; W. 21.5 cm.; D. 7 cm.

The boulder is carved as a rocky mountain scene. Three sages admire a scroll while a waterfall runs down the mountain and under a bridge. Pavilions and pine and wutong trees complete the scene. On the reverse side trees and houses with tiled roofs nestle among the rocky cliffs, and stairs can be seen winding through them.


 An inscription is carved in low-relief on one side on the back, and a Yongchen mark is on the bottom of the boulder.




Period: Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
Date: 18th century.
Medium: Nephrite jade.
Colour: Greyish white with russet and grey.
Dimensions: H. 11.5 cm.; L. 24 cm.; D. 7.2 cm.

The composition of the carving is beautiful.  A pair of carp is a symbol for a harmonious marriage.  It is also a wish for many offspring because carp produce an abundance of eggs.

The lotus is a Buddhist symbol representing purity and detachment from worldly cares.  The Buddha is frequently depicted sitting on a lotus.

It signifies the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

The stem and pod together stand for marital harmony and sexual union.  As with carp, the lotus seeds are also a blessing for many children.