Lot 203
  • 203


20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Diameter 2 1/4  in., 5.8 cm
delicately fashioned in a six-lobed form, the domed cover finely decorated to the top in repoussé and parcel-gilt with a ferocious lion grasping in its mouth and powerful foreclaws a fallen deer, the box similarly decorated to the underside with a lion pouncing on a deer (2)


Frank Caro, successor to C.T. Loo, New York, 9th January 1964.
Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

Catalogue Note

The present box belongs to a small group of high quality Tang dynasty silver wares characterized by the decoration of parcel-gilt animals in repoussé against a plain ground, a style which the can possibly be traced to the much earlier Scythian culture from the Siberian region. See a parcel gilt-silver vase currently in the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, discovered in Kul'Oba, an ancient Scythian burial tomb near Kerch, northern Black Sea region, from the 4th century B.C., similarly decorated around the exterior in repoussé and parcel-gilt with scenes of animal combat, including lions preying on a deer and boar, exhibited in Scythians Warriors of Ancient Siberia, The British Museum, London, 2017, cat. no. 208. Although several Tang dynasty examples from this group are published, it is extremely rare to find a box of this technique and design. Compare a dish in the same style, decorated in the center with a beast, excavated from a Tang tomb in Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia, illustrated in Zhongguo wenwu jinghua daquan. Jinyinyushijuan [Compendium of Chinese Art. Gold, silver, jade and stone], Hong Kong, 1994, pl. 68; and two dishes, one decorated with a pair of foxes and the other with a type of mythical beast called feilian, excavated from Hejia village, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, exhibited in HuawudaTangchun. Hejiacun yibao jingcui (Selected Treasures from Hejiacun Tang hoard), Shaanxi History Museum, Xi'an and School of Archaeology and Museology at Peking University, 2003, cat. nos 24 and 25 respectively, together with a flask decorated with a horse, cat. no. 64; as well as two dishes, each decorated with a rhinoceros in the center, formerly in the Carl Kempe Collection, and sold in our London rooms, 14th May 2008, lots 59 and 60.

The subject of a lion preying on a deer is also very rare for silver repoussé wares. A parcel-gilt silver floriform dish, decorated in a similar style to the center with a lion biting on the hind legs of a deer, attributed to the Tang dynasty, was offered at Christie's London, 10th June 1991, lot 45; another parcel-gilt silver box engraved to the top and bottom with a single leonine beast surrounded by flowers and birds, from the Carl Kempe Collection, was sold in our London rooms, 14th May 2008, lot 81. For Tang dynasty silver boxes of the same form, see a parcel-gilt example similarly modeled with six lobes, from the Tang dynasty, excavated from Tangyu in Lantian, Shaanxi province, published in ibid., Hong Kong, 1994, cat. no. 88.