Lot 3603
  • 3603

A FINELY CAST AND RARE JADE-INLAID GILT-BRONZE BOX AND COVER MARK AND PERIOD OF QIANLONG

Estimate
2,200,000 - 2,800,000 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • gilt bronze, jade
of circular section, the cylindrical box divided into two tiers separated by a solid plate, held together by a side hinge in the form of a butterfly, its wings outstretched and finely punched with small rings, the pin of the hinge surmounted by a shou character roundel, ornately decorated in openwork around the sides of the box and the hinge with large blooming lotuses borne on meandering foliate scrolls, the top of the box similarly decorated with a border of five bats in flight amongst scrolling clouds, encircling an inlaid jade plaque reticulated with three bats flying amid clouds encircling a flaming wheel in the centre, the gilt-bronze base plate decorated with stylised scrolling lotus in openwork and raised on three circular discs, sliding open at the side to reveal a solid plate engraved with a four-character reign mark

Catalogue Note

Exquisitely cast in openwork with a leafy floral scroll and embellished with a finely carved jade plaque, this piece is a particularly fine example of a treasure box because of its ingenious construction. Tiered boxes of the Qianlong reign were more commonly made as stackable types where it was opened by removing each level. However, this box is held together by a hinge which allows each tier to swivel open. Boxes of this type are particularly rare and the small size of this box suggests it may have been created to store jewellery or other precious items.

A cylindrical box similarly cast in openwork on the sides and with a jade plaque on the cover was sold in our Paris rooms, 10th June 2014, lot 4. See also a Qianlong mark and period painted enamel tiered box, one tier cast with floral sprays, from the Nino Marakovic Collection, sold in these rooms, 27th April 2003, lot 4.

The design of butterflies and bats has traditionally been a favoured motif in China for its highly auspicious qualities. Two confronting butterflies, here cast on each side of the hinge, represent a joyful union, while bats are a pun for blessings. Furthermore, when seen from above with the top swivelled, the box takes the form of two interlocking rings which represent double happiness. This piece would have thus been suitable as a wedding gift.

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