Lot 3106
  • 3106


60,000 - 80,000 HKD
106,250 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 24.7 cm, 9 3/4  in.
in the form of a dragon head, the ferocious beast with menacing bulging eyes beneath heavy eyebrows, and a single horn between a pair of pointed, funnel-shaped ears, its gaping mouth opened to reveal sharp fangs, the neck detailed with scales and striations, applied overall with lead-based green and ochre glazes, wood stand


Collection of Theresa Margaret Clayton.
Sotheby's New York, 5th May 1979, lot 251.
Weisbrod & Dy Ltd, Madison Avenue, New York.

Catalogue Note

Modelled with bulging eyes, menacing teeth and a ferocious expression, ceramic dragons of this type were integral parts of timber-framed architecture. Known as taoshou (‘casing animals’), these beasts were used on roofs where they served to protect the outer ends of the cantilever beams that supported the eaves corners. Often located under diagonal eaves, these beasts made roofs appear as if floating. Taoshou from different periods and various locations are illustrated in situ in Clarence Eng, Colours and Contrast. Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture, London, 2015, pp. 148-155. This piece also shares some characteristics with contemporary chuishou, mythological beasts placed over the diagonal eaves of roofs, such as one from the Bao’en temple in Nanjing, illustrated ibid., pl. 5.14; possibly the same, in the Nanjing Museum, was also included in the exhibition Ming. The Golden Empire, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, 2014, cat. no. 4; compare also another sold in our London rooms, 7th March 1978, lot 49.

These ceramic beasts, which are mostly known with lead-coloured glazes, were made from the Tang dynasty onwards. Two Tang examples modelled with open mouths are illustrated in National Treasure Collection of Rare Cultural Relics of Shaanxi Province, Xi’an, 1998, pp 102 and 104, the former excavated at Huangbu, and now in the Yaozhou Kiln Museum, Tongchuan, and the latter recovered at the site of the Huaqing Palace in Lintong county.