QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
the broad shallow bowl raised on four short ruyi head feet with rolled-up mouth rim, divided by a pair of elaborate winged dragon loop handles suspending loose rings that when viewed from overhead resemble butterflies, the interior finely carved in low-relief with a spray of lingzhi fungus and wannianqing flower with a cluster of berries, the underside finely incised with a six-petaled mallow flower, the stone of an even white tone with russet inclusion
A Private Collection, California.
The present jade vessel is exceptionable for its translucency and evenness of the high quality white stone. Bowls of this type, sometimes also referred to as water basins or marriage bowls were popular during the Qing period. The rolled-up mouth rim of the present piece suggests that it was more likely to be used as a brushwasher. Compare two jade brushwasher of smaller size in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, also with rolled rim but with twin boys as handles, illustrated in Jadeware (III), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 199-200, pls. 163-164.
Often carved and decorated with a variety of auspicious motifs, jade vessels of this type were meant to offer blessings and good wishes to the owners. The evergreen Wannianqing flower and lingzhi fungus expresses 'may your wishes always come true', as the word wannian means ten thousand years and lingzhi resembles the head of the ruyi ('as you wish'). The ruyi-form depicted on the feet of the vessel continue the expression of good wishes. The unusual depiction of the winged-dragon handles suggests the imperial connection. When viewed from the top, the dragon handles resemble butterflies, which are a symbol of marital bliss and a popular motif on marriage bowls.
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