The steady supply of jade was only secured in the 24th year of the Qianlong reign (1759), when Qing imperial forces subjugated the Dzungars and pacified the Hui areas. Jade boulders from these areas were brought to the court in large quantities, where the best specimens were selected to be carved by artisans of the Palace Workshop. The creative boom in imperial jade production of the period, propelled by the Emperor's insatiable appetite, was never before seen in the history of China.
The Qing imperial court archives, dated to the 4th month of the 18th year of Qianlong's reign, registers the Emperor's commissioning of a hundred pieces of jade bowls and tables respectively, to be carved from the boulders in the imperial treasury. Despite the considerable presence of jade wares in the imperial court, they were reserved exclusively for the Emperor and his limited entourage. As recorded in the Court History (Guochao gongshi) of the Qianlong period, where the exact amount of various types of vessels allowed for each court member is specified, only the Empress Dowager and the Empress were entitled to a set of "jade bowl with a gold stand"; jade was forbidden from all other consorts of the Emperor. On the occasion of feasts, the use of "jade bowls and golden plates", in sets of two, was also restricted to only when the Emperor was present.
A pair of bowls of similar size, in the British Museum, London, is illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pl. 29:13, where Rawson states that such undecorated jade vessels in porcelain shapes probably represented the highest quality eating and drinking utensils. Sumptuary laws, which restricted the use of jade vessels, and passages in novels that mention the utilitarian use of jade cups and bowls, indicate that jade was highly valued and used for eating and drinking (see p. 400). Compare also a bowl included in the exhibition A Romance With Jade, From the De An Tang Collection, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 116; a slightly larger pair, from the Cunliffe collection, sold at Bonhams London, 11th November 2002, lot 10, and again in these rooms, 2nd May 2005, lot 555; and another pair from the collection of Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Dingwall DSO (1869-1946), sold in our London rooms, 14th May 2014, lot 23.
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale