Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings
Live Auction: 22 September 2020 • 9:30 AM EDT • New York

Junkunc: Chinese Jade Carvings 22 September 2020 • 9:30 AM EDT • New York

M ore than 60 jades from the renowned collection of Stephen Junkunc, III (d. 1978) reflect the development of jade carving in China from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty. Highlights include a finely carved Ming dynasty celadon and russet jade ‘boy and buffalo’ group, an exceedingly rare and large Qianlong period yellow and russet jade ‘mythical beast’ and an important white jade seal from the Daoguang period.

(LEFT) LOT 209, (RIGHT) LOT 252

Featured Highlights

Stephen Junkunc, III: Portrait of a Collector
4000 Years of Chinese Jades
(LEFT) LOT 229, (RIGHT) LOT 233

Jade: The Eternal Stone

Jade, also known as nephrite, is an extraordinarily hard material requiring specialized tools and techniques in order to be carved. This physical quality has yielded two important cultural consequences for jade’s market and use, starting in the Neolithic period: first, that it has historically been crafted exclusively for an elite audience who could command the labor required to work the stone; and second, that it is extremely durable, possessing the power to withstand time and degradation, and therefore has a strong association with permanence. For these reasons, since antiquity jade articles have been included in elite tombs to accompany the deceased on their eternal passage, and in later periods jade was crafted into the image of deities and related symbols of immortality. The present selection of jades from the Junkunc Collection includes examples of jades crafted with the idea of immortality in mind.

Animals in Chinese Art

Animals have been a favorite subject for Chinese craftsmen, including jade carvers, from antiquity to the present. Some species were esteemed for the important roles they played in Chinese civilization, such as buffaloes for agriculture and horses for warfare. Yet, others were chosen for their auspicious associations, such as benevolent mythical beasts, or quotidian creatures like butterflies (fudie) and goats (yang) whose names bear a phonetic relationship to the words for ‘fortune and longevity’ and ‘positive energy’, respectively. The present selection of jades from the Junkunc Collection offers a survey of the types of animals that were depicted by Chinese carvers over the millennia and manner in which they were represented in each period.

Animals in Chinese Art

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