Lot 3619
  • 3619


800,000 - 1,000,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • bronze
  • 7 cm, 2 3/4  in.
finely cast with a cylindrical body surmounted by a top pierced with five apertures and encircled with a wide rim, the top decorated with stylised scrollwork and a floral border, the sides of the body inscribed with an imperial poem eulogising ancient jades and a yuti reign mark, dated to the guimao year of the Qianlong reign (in accordance with 1783) and terminating with a seal mark reading bide ('virtuous as jade'), all against a turquoise 'ice crackle' ground and between dark blue bands enclosing scrollwork, the base centred with a trigram qian encircled by a pair of sinuous dragons (long) chasing a flaming pearl


Christie's London, 12th May 2009, lot 123.

Catalogue Note

The imperial poem on the present vessel, titled Yong Han yu wangtou ping (‘In praise of the jade vessel in the shape of a wheel frame from the Han dynasty’) dated to the guimao year of the Qianlong reign (corresponding to 1783), is included in the Qing Gaozong yuzhi shiwen quan ji [Anthology of imperial Qianlong poems], Yuzhi shi wu ji [imperial poems, vol. 5], juan 30, p. 26. The vessel mentioned in the poem probably referred to Neolithic ritual jade cong with rectangular sides and a cylindrical shaft, originated from the Liangzhu culture, which flourished in southeastern China in the third millennium BC. However, the original functions and significance of these jade cong were long forgotten through the ages. Many of these jade cong were later lined with cylindrical metal vessels to be used as vases.

During the Qianlong reign, liners with imperial poems, such as the present piece, were produced by the Imperial Palace Workshop (Zaobanchu) and several examples are preserved in the Palace Museums in Beijing and Taipei. See a Liangzhu culture jade cong with a taller cloisonné enamel liner, both inscribed with the same imperial poem, preserved in the National Palace Museum, Taipei and included in the Museum’s exhibition The Enchanting Splendor of Vases and Planters: A Special Exhibition of Flower Vessels from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Taipei, 2002, cat. no. II-07; and another jade cong with a similar cloisonné enamel liner bearing a different poem, exhibited in The Life of the Emperor Qianlong, The Macao Museum of Art, Macau, 2002, cat. no. 61. See also a related cloisonné vessel inscribed with yet another poem, sold in these rooms, 4th April 2012, lot 3194.

The trigram is one of the bagua (Eight Trigrams) used in ancient times for divination. The Qianlong Emperor was fond of symbols with archaic connotation and often used the combination of this trigram, which is called qian, with dragons (long) as a homophone of his reign name.