AN EXTREMELY RARE CELADON JADE 'MYTHICAL CREATURE' PLAQUE, QIN - HAN DYNASTY OR LATER
AN EXTREMELY RARE CELADON JADE 'MYTHICAL CREATURE' PLAQUE
QIN - HAN DYNASTY OR LATER
of flattened form, carved in the silhouette of a winged creature with thick curved legs and a short pointed tail, incised to both sides with details in faint lines, its head with large circular eyes above an angular nose and rectangular mouth, the stone of a yellowish-celadon tone
Height 2¼ in., 5.6 cm
In overall good condition with scattered minute nicks along the edges, and with a minor flake loss on the 'head' of the creature. The stone with minor natural inclusions and fissures.
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.
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Collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978).
This highly unusual plaque, thinly carved with fluently incised details, depicts a fantastic creature. It is unpierced, indicating a function perhaps not as a wearable pendant, and appears to be unique. While no closely related examples are known to be recorded, this unidentified object can be compared to a small group of related unpierced jade plaques attributed to the Qin to Western Han dynasty. See, for example, a pair of green jade plaques, carved in the silhouette of a crouching tiger with the incisions executed in a similar fashion, excavated in Lianzhi village near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, published in Yang Boda, ed., Zhongguo yuqi quanji [Complete collection of Chinese jades], vol. 2, Shijiazhuang, 2005, no. 10. Compare also a set of six human-form plaques, each depicted with a human head and a rectangular body, some with incised facial features, found from a sacrificial site at Xuechicun, Shaanxi province, which provides an indication that these unpierced thin plaques possibly functioned as ritual objects; see Everlasting Like the Heavens. The Cultures and Arts of the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang. Tsinghua University Art Museum and Shaanxi History Museum, Beijing and Shaanxi, 2019, p. 298.
Stylistically, the present plaque also resembles the jade dancer-form pendants from the Han dynasty. Compare a pale celadon jade example, thinly carved in the form of a female dancer with the incised details executed in a similar level of fluency, excavated in Dabaotai near Beijing, published in ibid., 2005, no. 170; two excavated from the ancient city site near Linquan, Anhui province, now in the collection of the Fuyang Museum, Anhui province, published in Gu Fang, The Complete Collection of Unearthed Jades in China, vol. 6, Beijing, 2005, pl. 140; and two further examples in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Jadeware (I), Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 204.