Yellow jade vessels of this impressive size are extremely rare due to the rarity of such large boulders of even tone and quality. Since the Ming dynasty yellow jade was recognised by scholars and connoisseurs as one of the most valued variations of nephrite. In his miscellany Yanxian Qingshang [Refined Enjoyment of Elegant Leisure], the dramatist Gao Lian (fl. 1573-1581) noted, "Of all jade materials, yellow stones with a mellow tone are the best and mutton-white ones come second". Because of its rarity, the brownish skin was often worked into the piece, as seen on the front legs of the mythical creature, to increase its overall size and show the carver’s respect for the rare and valuable material.
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