Lot 209
  • 209


40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


well carved in the round, the young figure in a dynamic posture, merrily skipping along, one foot sweeping aside a small dog scurrying from beneath the robes, the garment swaying in ribbon-like folds in response to the S-curved movement of the body, the left arm bent at the elbow holding a beribboned ring by the shoulder, the right arm lowered grasping a small bird in the hand, the boy with a cheerful expression on the face, the hair bundled into two knots, a double-gourd canteen slung over the shoulder, the details all crisply carved and polished to a lustrous sheen, the stone an icy white color with scattered pale brown patches, wood stand (2)


Purchased in Hong Kong, 1964.


Robert P. Youngman, The Youngman Collection: Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Qing, Chicago, 2008, pl. 179.

Catalogue Note

This finely carved figure naturalistically captures the buoyant gait of a carefree child. Here, the boy moves with swiftness and grace while glancing affectionately at the small animal dashing between his feet and clambering at one of his shoes. His pervasive ease even pacifies the bird he carries in his right hand. The beribboned ring the boy holds in his left hand has led to some speculation that the figure may represent the legendary child-hero Nezha (or Nuo Zha). Nezha's attributes include the 'Cosmic Ring' which he uses to defeat the Dragon King's son, Ao Bing. For an example of this subject, see a Qing dynasty green jade ring carved in openwork with the image of Nezha using rings to attack a dragon, in the collection of the Freer Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C., acc. no. S1987.767. The iconography of the present carving, however, is not entirely consistent with myths about Nezha. For instance, there are no anecdotes associating him with birds, double-gourds, or small animals. Thus, it is just as likely that this carving simply represents a boy enjoying an afternoon stroll with his pets and a toy ring.

The manner of representation, particularly in the joie-de-vivre attitude of the subject, the folds of the garment, and the way the carving marks are finished, compare closely to a late Ming - early Qing dynasty white jade carving of Liu Hai, in the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, exhibited and published in Chinese Jade Carving, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 170. See also a contemporaneous mutton-fat jade carving of a figure with birds. from the Chih-jou Chai Collection, exhibited and published in Chinese Jades from Han to Ch’ing, Asia Society, New York, 1980, cat. no. 103.