800
800

PROPERTY FROM THE JUNKUNC COLLECTION

A VERY RARE GILT-BRONZE 'MYTHICAL TURTLE AND SNAKE' GROUP
SONG - MING DYNASTY
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT
800

PROPERTY FROM THE JUNKUNC COLLECTION

A VERY RARE GILT-BRONZE 'MYTHICAL TURTLE AND SNAKE' GROUP
SONG - MING DYNASTY
Estimate
50,00070,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Chinese Art

|
New York

A VERY RARE GILT-BRONZE 'MYTHICAL TURTLE AND SNAKE' GROUP
SONG - MING DYNASTY
the turtle crouching with bent knees and twisting its head sharply upward locking eyes with the snake wrapped around its body and rearing high overhead, the tension between the creatures made palpable through the fearful expression on the turtle's face and the menacing grimace of the snake with its trifurcated tongue flicking outward, its eyes bulging, and the crest on its head raised, the snake's tail looping around and constricting the turtle's, each animal's skin covered in a dense network of scales, the turtle's shell and carapace naturalistically modeled, the center of the carapace pierced
Length 4 3/4  in., 12 cm
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Provenance

Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

Catalogue Note

In the Han dynasty, the turtle entwined with a snake came to represent the cardinal direction of the north. The symbolic animal is sometimes referred to as Xuanwu (Dark Warrior), and is associated with protection and longevity. In antiquity, the image often appeared on pottery roof tiles and bricks.

In the Song dynasty and subsequent periods, artisans returned to ancient forms as inspiration for vessels and objets d'art cast in bronze. Compare a Song-Yuan dynasty cast-bronze figure of a qilin with very similar treatment of the skin and neck to the present turtle, sold in our London rooms, 5th November 1965, lot 84; a Yuan dynasty silver bowl with a three-dimensional serpent-like dragon that bears a strong resemblance to the present snake, in the collection of the Hunan Provincial Museum, Changsha, and illustrated in The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, fig. 60; and the similar scales and crisp casting of a Song dynasty bronze striding dragon sold in these rooms, 19th September 2002, lot 159. See also a much larger gilt-bronze 'Xuanwu' group with the same formal composition as the present, cast during the Yongle reign, now in the collection of the Hubei Provincial Museum, Wuhan, and another in the collection of the Capital Museum, Beijing.

Important Chinese Art

|
New York