3659
3659

PROPERTY OF A LADY

AN EXCEPTIONAL PAIR OF LARGE PALE CELADON JADE 'SHOU' RUYI SCEPTRES
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 7,520,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
3659

PROPERTY OF A LADY

AN EXCEPTIONAL PAIR OF LARGE PALE CELADON JADE 'SHOU' RUYI SCEPTRES
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
3,500,0004,500,000
LOT SOLD. 7,520,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Works of Art

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Hong Kong

AN EXCEPTIONAL PAIR OF LARGE PALE CELADON JADE 'SHOU' RUYI SCEPTRES
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
each with a large lingzhi-shaped terminal carved in low relief with a stylised shou character, below a soaring bat suspending a beribboned wan character in its mouth, the billowing ribbons extending downwards and flanking the shou character, all below a further wan symbol, the end of the arched shaft carved in low relief with archaistic scrolls, the bottom edge pierced for threading a tassel, the stone of a pale celadon colour mottled with faint russet inclusions
45.2 cm., 17 3/4  in.
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Catalogue Note

Ruyi sceptres of this magnificent size are rarely fashioned in jade, given the scarcity of boulders large enough to make objects of such impressive dimensions. The present pair of sceptres is also exceptional for the fine quality of the stone, enhanced by minor russet staining that provides a naturalistic. The high level of artistry and craftsmanship is evident in the fine quality of the carving and the decoration has been carefully chosen for its auspicious connotations.

Ruyi sceptres are highly auspicious objects favoured for their shape and ornamentation, which represent the propitious expression ‘as you wish’. Their origin remains a matter of speculation, with the popular belief being that their shape evolved from back-scratchers commonly made in bamboo or bone. However, their function may more likely have derived from hu tablets, items of authority and social rank held in the hands of officials in ancient China.  From the Song dynasty (960-1279), sceptres became closely associated with Daoism, and their heart-shaped head was often rendered as a lingzhi, the longevity fungus. By the Ming period (1368-1644), they were often presented as gifts among the official-gentry class, while under the Qing (1644-1911), starting from the Yongzheng reign (1722-1735), they became imperial objects that were bestowed by the emperor to his worthy officers and loyal subjects as rewards, and conversely made ideal tribute gifts to the emperors. Both the Yongzheng and the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) had themselves painted holding ruyi sceptres, and the latter was particularly fond of them and owned an extensive collection.

Two large ruyi sceptres carved with a similar auspicious motif of bats and shou character were sold in our New York rooms, one, 11th March 1975, lot 56, and the other, 25th October 1975, lot 17; another, from the collection of His Highness Maharaja Sir Padma Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana, was sold in our London rooms, 15th May 2013, lot 57; and two were sold at Christie’s New York, the first, 23rd/24th September 1988, lot 244, and the second, 1st June 1990, lot 369. Compare also smaller sceptres of this type, such as one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition Masterpieces of Chinese Ju-I Scepters in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1974, cat. no. 4; and another from the De An Tang collection, included in the exhibition A Romance With Jade, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 20.  

The motif of a bat (fu), shou (longevity) character and endless knot (panchang) on this pair of sceptres signifies the wish fushou mianchang (‘May you have endless blessings and longevity’).

Important Chinese Works of Art

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Hong Kong