A RARE YELLOW JADE CARVING OF A MYTHICAL BEAST
SONG - MING DYNASTY
crouching on all fours with the tail curling over its back, the head in a raised position with an alert expression, accentuated with a half-open mouth revealing sharp fangs below a bulbous nose, bulging eyes, incised whiskers and heavy eyebrows, the forehead naturalistically marked with a rounded bump and flanked by a pair of pointed ears, the smoothly polished stone of an attractive even greenish-yellow color
Length 2½ in., 6.5 cm
Overall in good condition with a minute nick to one ear and a minute abrasion to one claw tip. Otherwise with an even polish and natural minor fissures to the stone.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
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Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).
The warm tone of this yellow jade is particularly suited to the soft features of this mythical creature and would have been especially admired by a connoisseur of jade. Expertly modeled in the round, this figure features elements characteristic of Ming carved mythical creatures, such as the almost deliberately archaistic style of the pose, exaggerated features, curling tail and choice of stone.
The crouching pose of this creature imitates the large stone figures of ferocious beasts, including lions, tigers and imaginary winged creatures, that were placed on the tomb paths of emperors and high-ranking officials and military commanders from the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and through the Six Dynasties (220-589) period. An artistic tradition of creating jade animals of the highest quality as independent objects developed simultaneously. These sculptures were not just sumptuous display items for appreciation by the elite but also provided the owner with a constant and concrete realization of the powerful supernatural forces latent in the world. This rich tradition of craftsmanship continued to be transmitted throughout Chinese history, of which the present is an outstanding example.
A closely related sculpture, attributed to the late Song to early Ming period, from the Bei Shan Tang Collection, was included in the exhibitions Chinese Jade Carving, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, cat. no. 147, and Chinese Jades from Han to Ch’ing, Asia Society, New York, 1980, cat. no. 49, where it is noted that ‘the numerous books of the Ming period… contain numerous references to yellow, which, according to some Ming writers, is preferable to pure white jade’ (see p. 67); and another, catalogued as a hound, published in Robert P. Youngman, The Youngman Collection of Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Qing, Chicago, 2008, pl. 101, was sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 3rd April 2019, lot 3411.
Compare also a green jade beast of slightly larger size, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 6, Ming Dynasty, Beijing, 2011, pl. 245; a white jade example included in the exhibition The Chinese Scholar’s Studio. Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period, Asia Society, New York, 1987, cat. no. 52; and a yellow jade animal carved with its head turned to the side, from the collection of Gerald Godfrey, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 30th October 1995, lot 866.
比較一例，斷代宋末至明初，北山堂藏，曾展於《中國玉雕》，香港藝術館，香港，1983年，編號147以及《Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing》，亞洲協會，紐約，1980年，編號49，圖錄引述，明代許多關於黃玉的文獻記載，若干明代作者認為黃玉勝於白玉（頁67）；另比一例，黃玉臥犬，載於羅伯特•楊門，《楊門藏玉：中國玉器•新石器時代至清代》，芝加哥，2008年，圖版101，售於香港蘇富比2019年4月3日，編號3411。
再比一青玉例，尺寸較大，現藏於北京故宮博物院，載錄於《故宮博物院藏品大系•玉器編》，卷6：明，北京，2011年，圖版245；亦見一件白玉作例，曾展於《The Chinese Scholar's Studio. Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period》，亞洲協會，紐約，1987年，編號52；另比一黃玉例，獸首側望，出自 Gerald Godfrey 收藏，售於香港佳士得1995年10月30日，編號866。