3626
3626

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION

A SUPERBLY CARVED WHITE JADE 'MELON' VASE AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
4,000,0006,000,000
JUMP TO LOT
3626

PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION

A SUPERBLY CARVED WHITE JADE 'MELON' VASE AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
Estimate
4,000,0006,000,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong

A SUPERBLY CARVED WHITE JADE 'MELON' VASE AND COVER
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
exceptionally worked with an ovoid body rising from a countersunk foot to a short waisted neck and flaring rim, the shoulder flanked by a pair of loop handles, each adorned with a butterfly with outstretched wings and suspending a loose ring, the exterior densely decorated with a melon vine with plump lobed fruits growing from a trailing stem amidst large palmate leaves, with butterflies hovering above including two large ones plunging from the shoulder, the cover surmounted by a large finial depicted in openwork with a bud and surrounded by curling foliate edges, the lustrous stone of an even white colour, wood stand
22.6 cm, 8 7/8  in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sotheby's Hong Kong, 1st May 2001, lot 611.

Literature

The Jade-Carving Art in the Ch'ing Dynasty, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1996, pp. 84-85.

Catalogue Note

Striking for the brilliant and even hue of the white jade stone, this vase is superbly carved with an auspicious motif of melon vines and butterflies. The carver’s proficiency with the medium is evident in the skillful rendering of leaves and tendrils that gently sway in a most naturalistic manner. His exceptional skill is further displayed in his ability to fashion the stone in various levels of reliefs, from the deeply carved leaves to their thinly incised veins, and the detailed wings of the butterflies.

Jade carvings reached an unprecedented peak in quality and quantity as a result of the Qianlong Emperor’s outspoken passion for carved jade. The successful annexation of the Tianshan region around Hetian and Khotan in modern Xinjiang province secured access to the raw material. While his predecessor, the Yongzheng Emperor, had been faced with a severe shortage of good quality nephrite, large quantities of fine jade became available to the court from the latter half of the Qianlong reign onwards. While initially it was stipulated that all mined jade from the Tianshan region reached the court in Beijing, it was later established that an annual tribute quota of 4,000 catties (2,000 kilos) was to be supplied. Once in the palace, jade boulders were dispatched to the Palace Workshop (Zaobanchu) in Beijing, to the workshops of Suzhou, or those belonging to the Huai and Changlu Administrations. 

Vases of this form carved with this auspicious motif are rare and no other closely related example appears to have been published. Melons and butterflies form the wish for many descendants (guadie mianmian), a pun also mentioned in the Book of Odes (Shijing). The motif is also related to the New Year when butterflies and melons represent the wish niannian jiqing (‘Auspicious happiness year after year’). Butterflies are also related to the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi (Mencius), who dreamt he was a butterfly flying in a carefree manner and enjoying the nectar from flowers. 

A spinach-green jade vase carved with melons and butterflies, but lacking the loop handles and with a four-character Qianlong reign mark and of the period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Compendium of Collection in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 10, Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl. 61. Compare also a double-gourd vase carved with similarly rendered leaves, but also with the daji (good luck) characters, illustrated in Robert Kleiner, Chinese Jades form the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 149. 

Important Chinese Art

|
Hong Kong