A closely related bowl also attributed to the Song dynasty, with slightly shallower sides but almost identical decoration, is in the collections of John C. Ferguson, illustrated in Hiram W. Woodward, Jr, Asian Art in the Walters Art Gallery: A Selection, Baltimore, 1991, no. 20. Another burnt white jade washer, of near identical shape but carved with deer, from the Qing court collection and still preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo yuqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese jades], vol. 5, Shijiazhuang, 1993, pls 111 and 112.
Under the artistic leadership of Huizong Emperor, antiquarian studies amongst the elites and its simulation into art flourished in the Song dynasty. Confucius values and archaism in art were revisited, and the ceaseless pursuit of classic beauty reached an apex of sophistication. The rendering of the relief-carved chilong dragons on the present bowl bears close resemblances to those seen on Han dynasty jades. See a Han dynasty jade archer’s ring from the Palace Museum, Beijing, where the chilong is similarly worked with scrolled ears, double-bordered almond-shaped eyes, squared nose and sharp two-toed claws, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Jadeware (I), Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 188; and another similarly carved pendant from the collections of Christian Humann and Alan and Simone Hartman, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 29.
Whilst drawing inspiration from Han dynasty jades, the vivid enigmatic representation of the dragons on the present washer stands firmly a Song dynasty tradition. Such pattern can also be found on a group of Ding wares from the Song dynasty, as Jan Wirgin suggested in his article 'Sung Ceramic Designs' in The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities Bulletin, vol. 42, Stockholm, 1970, fig. 13ab.
Handled cups of various shapes attributed to the Song dynasty, also decorated with archaistic dragons and fashioned from jade boulders of similar texture and quality, are recorded in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Jadeware (II), Hong Kong, 1995, pls 102 and 111.
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