Chinese Jades from the Xianquxuan Collection

Chinese Jades from the Xianquxuan Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 755. Three celadon 'grass mat' jade discs, bi, Han dynasty | 西漢 青玉蒲璧 一組三件.

Three celadon 'grass mat' jade discs, bi, Han dynasty | 西漢 青玉蒲璧 一組三件

Lot Closed

December 5, 03:55 AM GMT


900,000 - 1,200,000 HKD

Lot Details


Three celadon 'grass mat' jade discs, bi

Han dynasty

西漢 青玉蒲璧 一組三件

d. 19.6 cm, 18.5 cm, and 17.2 cm

Ku Ngar Antique Limited, Hong Kong, 10th November 2000.


During the Zhou Dynasty, jade was used to craft the Six Rites, the use of different types of jade blades (gui) and discs (bi) were restricted by different titles. As described in the Spring Official, Chief of the Clan section of the Zhou Rituals: "The king holds the zhengui, the duke holds the huangui, the marquis holds the xingui, the earl holds the gonggui, the viscount holds the guibi, and the baron holds the pubi." After the Eastern Zhou period, these systems could not be continued due to the collapse of rituals. In later generations, there were more usurpations, and by the Han Dynasty, the Zhou Rituals were almost non-existent. Various jade gui and bi became decorative items for the nobles. However, for the Han people who deeply believed in ghosts and gods, bi also became a spiritual tool to connect the heaven and the earth. High-level Han tombs must be decorated with jade Bi around the coffin, but the number and decoration are used to distinguish the high and low status. This set of three discs is exquisitely carved, with fine and uniform jade, and should belong to high-ranking nobles. The decorative pu pattern, that is, the pattern of woven reed mats, has the allusion of "anche pubi" in the time of Emperor Wu of Han. Hanshu [the book of Han dynasty] records that Wudi Emperor invited the old Confucian Lu Shen Gong to give lectures in the Ming Tang with the chariot decorated with jade discs and silk, and the wheels wrapped with reeds (pu) to reduce shocks. Anche pubi is the story suggested a custom of inviting the elderly with respect was established in the Han Dynasty.

This type of mat-patterned jade disc or pubi was very popular in the Western Han Dynasty, but there are differences in carving, jade quality, and size. Compare with a green jade pubi unearthed between the inner and outer coffins of the Western Han Haihunhou Liu He. The carving, jade quality, and size are comparable to this set, with some parts broken. See 'Jiangxi Nanchang haihunhou Liu He mu chutu yuqi [Jade Articles Unearthed from the Tomb of Haihunhou Liu He in the Western Han Dynasty in Nanchang, Jiangxi]', Cultural Relics, November 2018, p. 68, fig. 25. Compare also with another jade pubi unearthed from a late Western Han tomb in Xi'an, Shaanxi, with a similar size and design, which is divided into vertical and horizontal lines, and then a dot matrix is formed by drilling and grinding to form a polygon. See Shaanxi Chutu Handai Yuqi [Han Dynasty Jades Unearthed in Shaanxi], Beijing, 2009, pl. 55. Two other Western Han jade pubi unearthed in Xi'an can be also compared with, illustrated in ibid, pls. 52 and 53. A jade pubi unearthed from a Western Han tomb in Xiaogui Mountain, Jiangsu Province, is also highly related, which is illustrated in Complete Collection of Jade Artifacts Unearthed in China, Beijing, 2002, vol. 7, p. 106. Two Western Han pubi unearthed from the site of the Han Guangling State can also be referred to, which are in the Nanjing Museum and the Yangzhou City Museum separately, illustrated in Jade Ware of Guangling in Han Dynasty, Beijing, 2003, nos. 29 and 32.The pubi has been popular until the end of Han, see another two Eastern Han pubi  illustrated in Shaanxi Chutu Handai Yuqi, pls. 56 and 57. 

Pubi emerged in the Eastern Zhou period. See an example unearthed from an early Warring States period tomb in Qufu, Shandong, with the mat pattern is not as dense as this group, and the carving is more sparse, but the early prototype can be seen. See Yang Boda ed., Zhongguo yuqi quanji [Complete Collection of Chinese Jade], Shijiazhuang, 2005, vol. 2, pl. 140.


周代以玉器做六瑞,即所謂「王執鎮圭,公執桓圭,侯執信圭,伯執躬圭,子執穀璧,男執蒲璧。」(《周禮》春官宗伯)東周以後禮崩樂壞,此類制度難以為繼,後世多有僭越,至漢代周禮幾乎不存,各類圭璧成為貴族之裝飾品,然而漢人篤信鬼神,璧又成為通天接地之靈器,高級漢墓之棺槨周圍必有玉璧為飾,惟數目多寡,裝飾繁簡以分地位高下。此璧一組三件,琢製精當,玉料細勻,當屬高級貴族所有。 所飾蒲紋,即蒲草編席之紋路,漢武帝時有「安車蒲璧」之典。《漢書·武帝紀》記載: 「議立明堂。遣使者安車蒲輪,束帛加璧,徵魯申公。」即將車輪以蒲草包裹減震,束帛加璧,邀請宿儒魯申公至明堂講學,漢代皇帝敬老延聘引之為定制。