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.