Chinese Jades from the Xianquxuan Collection

Chinese Jades from the Xianquxuan Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 768. A set of eighteen white jade 'dragon' belt plaques, Ming dynasty | 明 白玉蟒龍紋帶板 一套十八件.

A set of eighteen white jade 'dragon' belt plaques, Ming dynasty | 明 白玉蟒龍紋帶板 一套十八件

Lot Closed

December 5, 04:08 AM GMT


400,000 - 600,000 HKD

Lot Details


A set of eighteen white jade 'dragon' belt plaques

Ming dynasty

明 白玉蟒龍紋帶板 一套十八件

largest l. 18 cm

Wing Po Antiques, Hong Kong, 13th September 1994.


The present set of jade plaques decorated with four-clawed dragons is rare. During the Ming dynasty, only officials of the first rank were entitled to wear belts set with meticulously carved jade plaques of varying sizes and decorations, while those of the second and third ranks were allowed to wear belt sets comprising plaques made of rhinoceros horn and other precious materials. According to the Da Ming hui dian, or the Collected Statues of the Ming Dynasty, those who are noble and senior members in Imperial service are granted the four-clawed dragons, but rarely for the first-rank officials.


The arrangement of the plaques followed an established pattern, with the largest pieces typically placed at the centre and at either end of the belt. The use of such plaques had its origin as early as the beginning of the Tang Dynasty. During the Ming Dynasty, jade belt plaques were revived after a decline in the previous dynasties. It has been recorded that Ming emperors had thousands of sets of jade plaques made in the imperial workshops to grant to officials and to the nobility.


Compare with a complete set of twenty jade belt plaques in the Nanjing Museum, similarly decorated with dragons but with a gold belt, illustrated in Ming chao shou shi guan fu (Ming Dynasty Jewellery and Formal Attire), Beijing, 2000, p.27; See also another soapstone belt plaque, Ming dynasty, with a similar low-relief carving technique, illustrated in ibid., p.36. Another related set of jade plaques were found in the Tomb of the Prince of Liang of the Ming Dynasty, but with reticulated dragon motifs, illustrated in Liangzhuangwang mu [The Tomb of the Prince Liang], Beijing, 2007, pl. 166.