of small annular form, powerfully carved on both the cover and base in relief with a sinuous dragon tightly coiling its long muscular body, the facial features well defined with narrow slit-eyes, pointed nose and a high crest, the scales and and sharp talons with fine incisions, the stone of a pure milky-white tone throughout with a russet vein on the base
Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, Asian House Gallery, New York, 1980, cat. no. 155.
Exquisite Jade Carving, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 183.
A stunning example of the technical expertise of Song dynasty craftsmen, this piece is extremely rare and no other comparable box appears to have been published. Carved with a nearly-identical sinuous dragon coiled around each half of the box, the suggestion of movement and attention to minute detail despite its delicate size is remarkable. The treatment of the dragons is comparable to those on their ceramic contemporaries, with the long pointed snout, the parallel lines that encircle the front and underside of the body, the slightly inward-curving claws, and the way the head is held back from a puffed-out chest.
An example of similarly rendered dragons on porcelain in the Qing Court collection in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Porcelain of the Song Dynasty, vol. 1, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 75; and another from the National Palace Museum, Taibei, was included in the exhibition Special Exhibition of Ting Ware White Porcelain, National Palace Museum, Taibei, 1987, cat. no. 79. Compare a similarly rendered dragon incised into a large silver box attributed to the late-Song period, in the Rietberg Museum, Zurich, included in the exhibition Chinesisches Gold und Silber. Die Sammling Pierre Uldry, Zurich, 1994, cat. no. 218.Annular boxes of this shape are known to have existed in the 10th century; see a celadon version typical of the Shanglinhu kiln, Zhejiang province, in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, illustrated in Mary Tregear, Catalogue of Chinese Greenware in the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, Oxford, 1976, pl.140. For further examples of jade vessels inspired by Song ceramic shapes, see two bowls of 'Jun'-shape included in the exhibition Jades from China, The Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, 1994, cat. nos 249 and 250.
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