Lot 3617
  • 3617


2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKD
4,420,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • jade
  • jade 23 by 16.7 cm, 9 by 6 1/2  in.
of rectangular form, the front deftly and deeply worked in varying levels of relief, depicting an idyllic scene of the scholar Zhou Dunyi standing beside a crouching attendant by a fenced podium emerging from cragged rockwork, admiring blooming lotuses on a flowing river before mountains in a distance, the scene framed on the right with tall pine trees on jagged rocks, lightly inscribed to the reverse in Qianlong's calligraphy with Zhou's poem Ai lian Shuo ('On the love of the lotus') and two characters reading yubi ('In the Imperial hand'), followed by two square seals reading Jixia yiqing ('When does one have the leisure to delight the heart?') and de jiaqu ('obtaining refined enjoyment'), all bordered by a key-fret band, raised on a zitan wood stand carved with stylised taotie masks, above a stepped rectangular plinth formed from reticulated lotus and ruyi panels divided by baluster-form supports between horizontal lappet bands


An English private collection.
Christie's London, 10th/11th November 2005, lot 390.

Catalogue Note

This finely carved jade table screen portrays the Song dynasty scholar Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) who is known for his love of lotus. The design is complemented by Zhou's famous short essay Ai lian shuo ('On the love of the lotus'), which praises the purity and integrity of the lotus because it rises clean out of muddy water, just as a scholar can rise above worldly affairs.

Zhou's essay was popular since the Song dynasty and the concept continued to be influential in the succeeding periods, especially among the literati. The Qing emperors also showed their admiration of Zhou. The Yongzheng Emperor copied the poetic essay and the calligraphy was later printed and included in Siyitang fatie [Modelbooks of the Siyi Hall], compiled by the Qianlong Emperor in the first year of his reign (corresponding to 1736).

For a similar jade table screen inscribed with an imperial poem written by the Qianlong Emperor and carved with a lotus pond, but without any figures, see an example sold in these rooms, 8th October 2014, lot 3656. A related jade table screen also inscribed with an imperial poem, depicting the calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303-361) gazing at geese, is in the collection of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., object no. 1942.185.173.A.