The present piece belongs to a group of delicately carved jade ornaments inspired from natural forms, introduced in the Song dynasty. The reverse of the flower was cleverly undercut to create a gap between the flower and one of its leaves, creating a hollowed slot through which a strap or a belt could pass, suggesting the present piece may have been used as a belt slide. Jade belt slides such as the present piece served as replacements for earlier metal or jade buckles which were heavier and more ungainly to use.
A closely related trumpet vine plaque attributed to the Song dynasty is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 5, Tang, Song, Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties, Beijing, 2011, pl. 196. The rendering of the floral spray, with the bloom wrapped amongst long leaves with naturally furled edges, closely resembles that on the present piece. Compare another example also rendered as a floral spray, from the Hei-Chi collection and attributed to the Song dynasty, published in Tao and Liu Yunhui, Jades from the Hei-Chi Collection, Beijing, 2006, p.160. Another jade ornament worked in the form of a morning glory spray, from the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji, vol. 5, Beijing, 1998, pl. 88. See also another example of the same subject as the present piece but as a round ornament, published ibid, pl. 89. A later example from the collection of Sir Joseph Hotung, dated to the Ming dynasty, is also discussed in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p. 340, pl. 25:20.
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