A RARE CELADON JADE FIGURE OF A BIXIE EASTERN HAN DYNASTY | 東漢 青白玉辟邪
Property from the Hei-Chi Collection
A RARE CELADON JADE FIGURE OF A BIXIE
EASTERN HAN DYNASTY
depicting prowling with the left front leg striding forward, the muscular body of the horned beast rendered with a large pair of wings extending from the front haunches and detailed with fine plumage, echoing the contours of the bifurcated tail, the celadon stone suffused with faint russet inclusions
4.8 cm, 1 ⅞ in.
The figure is in very good condition with just insignificant nibbles to the right nostril and left side of the mouth.
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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE.
Fashioned in the round from a pebble of translucent celadon tone, this carving convincingly captures the innate power and otherworldliness of the bixie. The carver’s virtuosity with the medium is evident in the articulation of the animal’s powerful semi-reclined pose and the fine incised lines that details its scaly body and wings. Depicted with the head of a lion, a single horn and a pair of wings, this mythical beast has its origins in the arts of western Asia, and became a frequently depicted subject during the transition from the Western Han to the Eastern Han dynasty.
The Han dynasty saw the emergence of a rich sculptural tradition that developed from a heightened interest in the representation of animals and fabulous beasts in durable materials. The spread of Daoist philosophy and the pursuit of immortality among the upper echelons of Han society had a dramatic impact on the production and consumption of such sculptures. Monumental stone sculptures of animals and their small jade counterparts were found at Han dynasty burial sites, and are believed to have served the function of protecting their owner and leading the way to paradise. Evidence of this tradition is scarce, although a group of five jade animals were recovered in the vicinity of Emperor Yuan’s (r. 48-33 BC) mausoleum in Xi’an, including a bixie modelled in a similar pose. It has been suggested that these animals may have been displayed within the tomb as inhabitants of a miniature paradise landscape, as similar depictions are known on contemporary bronze incense burners (boshanlu).
Only a small number of jade mythical beasts from this period is known; one in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum. Jade, vol. 4, Han, Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties, Beijing, 2011, pl. 236; and an Eastern Han example, from the Sze Yuan Tang collection, was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 5th April 2016, lot 32. See also a much larger bixie in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the Museum’s exhibition Splendid Treasures. A Hundred Masterpieces of the National Palace Museum on Parade, Taipei, 2012, cat. no. 18; another from the collection of Desmond Gure, now in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C., published on the Museum’s website, accession no. S1987.26; and a jade fitting in the form of a bixie, illustrated in Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p. 353, fig. 6.
參考北京故宮博物院藏玉雕瑞獸，錄於《故宮博物院藏品大系：玉器編4：漢魏晉南北朝》，北京，2011年，圖版236；思源堂舊藏一件東漢作例，2016年4月5日售於香港邦瀚斯，編號32。台北故宮博物院藏東漢玉辟邪，尺寸較大，盛名遠播，刊於《精彩一百國寶總動員》，台北，2012年，編號18。Desmond Gure 雅蓄一例，現存華盛頓弗利爾美術館，並載於博物館網站，藏品編號 S1987.26；並參考一例玉辟邪形珮，收錄於羅森，《Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing》，倫敦，1995年，頁353，圖6。