Lot 3418
  • 3418


1,000,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • teapot: 22.2 cm, 8 3/4  in.cups: 5.5 and 5.2 cm, 2 1/4  and 2 in. 
the teapot carved from a gnarled section of chenxiangmu (eaglewood), with slender tapered sides rising to high shoulders and a flared neck, set with a curved spout opposite a loop handle and a small protruding stump on one side, carved in low relief with a continuous scene of scholars among jagged rocks and verdant trees, one side with three sages conversing near two others engaged in a game of weiqi, the reverse with a group gathered at a table listening to their companion playing on a qin, all below undulous mountains and clouds encircling the shoulder, the handle and spout detailed with prunus branches, the neck decorated with a further scholar on a rocky path, the flat cover of conforming irregular outline surmounted by two rows of chrysanthemum petals culminating in a fruit finial, the base, rims and spout mounted in metal, the interior fitted with a metal liner; together with a pair of matching cups carved with sages and attendants sheltered beneath pine and bamboo or wutong trees

Catalogue Note

Extremely brittle and difficult to carve, chenxiangmu is typically found in small segments and traditionally pieced together to form small articles. Objects of relatively larger size are more vulnerable to natural fissures and flakes; it is therefore very rare to find teapots carved from this medium in such large size and good condition, no other example appear to be known. Chenxiangmu was one of the most valued types of wood in China due to its aromatic and medicinal qualities. The properties of the wood have been discussed in several publications, including Robert Ellsworth in Chinese Furniture. Hardwood Examples of the Ming and Early Ch’ing Dynasties, New York, 1970, p. 46, who describes it as lignaloes, a succulent wood from a species sometimes considered a tree, sometimes a shrub; and Sheila Riddell in Dated Chinese Antiquities 600-1650, London, 1979, p. 228, who calls it gharu wood (aquilaria agallocha), a highly-esteemed type with the best quality sourced from Cambodia, according to Chau Ju-Kua, the renowned 12th century traveller. Furthermore, Gerard Tsang and Hugh Moss in the catalogue to the exhibition Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, p. 216, comment that chenxiangmu was frequently used for burning incense.

Libation cups carved from chenxiangmu are generally after rhinoceros horn cups in appearance. These cups are usually made from small pieces of wood joined together by lacquered seams. See a set of four sold in our London rooms, 15th May 2013, lot 203 and another from the Robert H. Blumenfield collection, sold at Christie’s New York, 22nd March 2012, lot 1298.