A Collection of Chinese Jades – Unseen for 50 Years

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The Arts d’Asie sale in Paris on 22 June is led by a selection of important Chinese jades from the collection of Madame Djahanguir Riahi.

Collected with a keen eye for quality and rarity, these fine examples of mostly 18th century jades have not been seen on the market since they were acquired in the late 1960s. Speaking about her collection in 1987, Djahanguir Riahi said: “Ever since I started in the art field over thirty years ago, I have been attracted by 17th and 18th century jades, dating from the reigns of K’ang Hsi and Kien Long.”

Click ahead to find out more about the collectors and to see a selection of the highlights.

Arts d'Asie | Paris | 22 June

A Collection of Chinese Jades – Unseen for 50 Years

  • Mr and Mrs Djahanguir Riahi.
    Together with her husband, Monsieur Djahanguir Riahi, the legendary and world-renowned collector of magnificent French furniture and decorative arts, Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur as well as Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, whose name graces one of the principal viewing rooms at the Musée du Louvre, began collecting Chinese jades in the late 1960s. Surrounded by objects of exquisite beauty, they looked for jades with an illustrious past and a story to tell, forming their collection with a keen eye for quality and rarity and developing a deeply personal approach to collecting these pieces which Mme Riahi has kept hold of for almost 50 years until today.

  • An important spinach-green jade table screen superbly carved with Laozi encountering Yin Xi, Guardian of the Pass, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period. Estimate €150,000–250,000.
    Among the most treasured jade pieces in the Riahi collection is a wonderful spinach-green jade table screen skilfully carved with the encounter between the philosopher Laozi and Yin Xi, Guardian of the Pass and Highest Perfected. A rare subject, the piece was originally in the collection of Robert C. Bruce and shown in the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, held at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1935.

  • A magnificent large spinach-green jade brushpot skilfully carved with ‘The five old Men of Suiyang’, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi to Qianlong period. Estimate €300,000–500,000.
    Another much loved object is a magnificent, large spinach-green jade brushpot depicting five elderly gentlemen known as the Five Old Men of Suiyang passing a leisurely day feasting and drinking, indulging in the joys of retirement. It belongs to a small group of very large brushpots possibly made for use at the court.

  • A pale celadon jade deer group, Qing Dynasty, 18th century. Estimate €8,000–12,000.
    To the Chinese, the deer is a much beloved creature, associated with immortals and good fortune. In ancient China deer were regarded as ‘immortal creatures’, believed to have a lifespan of 5,000 years. They were believed to inhabit the abodes of immortals and gods. They served as mounts for the god of longevity, Shoulao, and were companions of Magu, the goddess of immortality, often serving as her draught animal. It was also believed that deer could detect the mushroom of immortality lingzhi. These associations further added to deer being firmly linked to immortality.

  • A large well-carved spinach-green jade marriage bowl, incised four-character Qianlong mark and of the period. Estimate €100,000–150,000.
    The design of the handles and the central flower is highly ornate. The intricately and deeply carved, almost naturalistic flower sprays and blossoms may have been inspired by jades from Hindustan. Central Asian jade wares were originally brought to the Qing court under the Qianlong emperor and were subsequently copied by Chinese craftsmen who adapted the new designs to their own repertoire.

  • A well-carved pale celadon jade washer in the form of a large peach, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period. Estimate €30,000–50,000
    The rounded, slightly incurved sides of this impressive vessel suggest a use as a water pot or a brush washer. The shape of the original jade boulder from which this impressive washer was carved may have influenced the shape of the object into which it was carved. In this case, it has taken the form of a rather large peach, a fruit laden with symbolism as it represents longevity and happiness. Additional auspicious creatures are incorporated into the design: Bats in flight are hovering on the exterior of the washer, flying amidst branches heavily laden with more if smaller peaches, representing additional happiness or blessings. The Chinese word for bat is fu, a homophone for ‘happiness’.

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