V ictor Vee Shek Shaw (1935-2020) originally from Ningbo, Zhejiang, and a member of the legendary Shaw family in Hong Kong, is a lifelong collector of Chinese art who was renowned not only for his discerning eye but also his philanthropic pursuits. Shaw assembled his jade collection since his younger age since 1960s. With his five decades of acquisition and experience, the collection is a true reflection of his inner spirit and his life’s work. The Part 1 of the Online series offers over seventy pieces of jade carvings spanning from Six Dynasties (220 – 589) to Qing dynasty (1644-1991), mostly small pieces with refined craftsmanship and exquisite taste.
Animals have always been a popular subject for various genres of Chinese art, including jade carvings. Animals in Chinese art have long been a way of conveying philosophical and sometimes political meaning in a sophisticated visual language of cultural associations and wordplay. The present selection of animal carvings from The Victor Shaw Collection offers a survey of the stylistic development and exquisite carving skills of Chinese jade over the millennia.
The many animals and creatures that appear in Chinese culture can be divided into three categories: domestic, wild, and mythical. All animals had spiritual meanings bound to individual motifs, and they were assigned specific places within the universe in accordance with Chinese cosmology.
Owing to their association with having positive interrelationships with humans, domestic animals represent the harmonious cooperation between humans and nature.
Wild animals are seen as untamed nature akin to man’s untamed desires.
Mythical animals from Chinese legend and folk stories are commonly regarded as the most powerful of creatures because they exist in the realm of the imagination, a space of unlimited magical potential.
Literati Playthings and Personal Ornaments
In the Confucius tradition, jade is also regarded as the symbol of the virtues, thus, has been highly esteemed in the literati circle. Jade was worked into various daily objects and personal ornaments as a symbol of status and literati aesthetics.
Literati Playthings 文房雅玩
Personal Ornaments 個人佩飾