Recumbent water buffalo are among the most popular subjects carved in jade. The buffalo, a classic icon of Chinese painting, is often associated with power and strength, and when depicted with a young boy riding on its back becomes symbolic of obedience and serenity. See a related black jade sculpture of a boy riding a buffalo in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji, vol. 6, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pl. 272. A number of earlier sculptures of this design are known such as one attributed to the Yuan dynasty illustrated in James Watt, Chinese Jades from the Han to Ch'ing, New York, 1980, pl. 47, together with another attributed to the Southern Song and early Yuan dynasty, pl. 46, where the author states that the subject of a boy on a buffalo first appeared in the Southern Song period.