Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings
Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings
September 22, 03:56 PM GMT
200,000 - 300,000 USD
A LARGE YELLOW AND RUSSET JADE CARVING OF A MYTHICAL BEAST
QING DYNASTY, QIANLONG PERIOD
well carved, crouching on its four powerful legs as if preparing to pounce, its head turned gently to the left, detailed with a short, curled pointy beard, a long snout, bulging eyes, and a finely incised mane flanked by a pair of large furled ears, its pronounced ridged spine terminating in a long bushy tail swept against the right haunch, the softly polished stone of greenish-yellow tone with some areas of russet coloration and occasional natural fissures, wood stand (2)
Length 5⅞ in., 15 cm
Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).
Outstanding for the playful yet dynamic rendering of the mythical beast and its impressive size, this carving successfully captures the supernatural vitality of the creature. The notched spine and muscular body which is poised as though ready for action, along with the pronounced eyes and curled features such as its beard, tail and ears, display the technical expertise of its carver. Highly tactile in its smooth finish and impeccably modeled in the round, this carving would have been particularly favored by the jade connoisseur.
The development of sculptures of mythical creatures occurred during the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) when they began to appear in large numbers in durable materials, such as stone and jade. They were placed along the path to, and inside, tombs to pacify the elemental and supernatural forces of the world. This tradition further flourished during the Six Dynasties when immense fabulous beasts drawn from the spiritual world were produced on a grand scale outside the tombs near Nanjing. Simultaneously, an artistic tradition of creating jade animals of this type, but on a smaller scale, emerged. In contrast to the earlier two-dimensional jade carvings made for the afterlife or to adorn the individual, these creatures were modelled in the round as artistic objects and to provide the owner with a constant and concrete realization of the powerful supernatural forces in the world. As a result, carvings of mythical creatures continued to abound throughout Chinese history, of which the present is an exquisite example.
A number of carvings of recumbent mythical creatures rendered in a similar stylized manner include a closely related example, but with the head turned, published in Compendium of the Cultural Relics in the Collection of the Summer Palace, Beijing, 2018, pp 98-99 (fig. 1); and a smaller forward-facing version, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, included in Denise Leidy et. al., 'Chinese Decorative Arts', The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Summer 1997, p. 25.
Compare also the exaggerated facial features and body of a jade mythical creature, in the Qing Court Collection and still in Beijing, included in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Jadeware III, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 93; another, attributed to the Ming period, published in Jadewares Collected by Tianjin Museum, Beijing, 2012, pl. 173, together with a seated version, pl. 172; another sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3rd June 2015, lot 3188; and another, from the Muwen Tang Collection, sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 1st December 2016, lot 38.
可比較一黃玉瑞獸例，風格造型與本品極近，但作顧首狀，載於《頤和園藏文物大系•玉器卷I》，北京，2018年，頁98至99（圖一）。另見一相類例，藏於紐約大都會藝術博物館，獸首前望，載於Denise Leidy 等，〈Chinese Decorative Arts〉，《The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin》，1997年夏，頁25。