the pebble-shaped stone of white and brown skin, finely carved with a Mandarin duck with well-defined feathers and a brown-tipped beak, its left side flanked by a russet-brown lotus leaf and blossoming lotus flower
Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 181.
Cleverly carved to incorporate the natural russet outer layer of the stone and masterfully executed with flecks to indicate the texture of the feathers, this piece is a fine example of jade carving produced in the Suzhou workshops. Compare a similarly carved figure, also integrating the hues of the pebble skin, in the Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, included in the exhibition Jades from China, Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, 1994, cat. no. 343; and a carving of a goose holding a spray of lotus included in the exhibition Chinese Jade Carving, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 183. For a larger white jade carving of two mandarin ducks with lotus, see one exhibited in Exquisite Jade Carving, The University Museum and Art Gallery, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 121.
Mandarin ducks are symbolic of marital fidelity and are often depicted with lotuses, whose flowers represent harmony and whose seedpods stand for numerous progeny.
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