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.
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