Lot 206
  • 206


6,000 - 8,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Height of taller 3 1/4  in., 8.3 cm
each of triangular form pierced with two tiny apertures on each of the sides, the recessed top decorated in repoussé with two pairs of confronting makaras, each with a single horn, a long curled snout, and a sinuous scaly body issuing large pelvic fins and a dorsal fin along the spine, extending to a furcated tail, all against a fine stippled ground (2)


Dai Cun Shu Wu Collection (according to label on the box).
Collection of Frank G. Marcus, until circa 1953.
Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).

Catalogue Note

The present pair of triangular plaques is extremely rare, and no other examples appear to be published. The tiny apertures on the sides may suggest that they were used as ornament plaques. The creatures decorating the plaques can be identified as makara, a water guardian spirit used as an architectural element to protect gateways. Makaras images arrived in China with the propagation of Buddhism just after the Han dynasty, but for centuries made only rare appearances, generally as a detail on Buddhist sculptures or temple reliefs. During the Tang and Song dynasties, makaras are found as decorative subjects on metal wares, typically depicted with a fish body and dragon head with a long upturned curling snout, such as a pair decorating the interior of a parcel-gilt plate from the Tang dynasty, in the Inner Mongolia Museum, Hohhot, published in Zhang jingming, Zhongguo beifang caoyuan gudai jinyinqi [Ancient gold and silverwares from North China], Beijing, 2005, no. 77. The makaras on the present lot, however, are depicted with elongated sinuous bodies resembling a dragon, which can be compared to the makara on an engraved silver box and cover, similarly rendered in a long dragon body, from the Song dynasty, illustrated in Pierre Uldry, Chinesische Gold und Silber, Zurich, 1994, pl. 281. Compare also a related Song dynasty rectangular silver plaque decorated in repoussé with a mythical sea creature standing above crashing waves, against a similarly executed stippled ground, published ibid., pl. 268.