Continuing the Song dynasty tradition of carving jade vessels in the form of archaic bronzes, the craftsmen of the Qing dynasty adapted classical forms and fused them together with various decorative elements to result in wares suited to contemporary taste. The present lot incorporates archaistic elements, such as the form which is based on the archaic bronze gui and the kui dragons on the body and cover, with highly stylised and modern elements such as the handles in the form of winged creatures and lotus flower knop.
No other closely related example appears to have been published, although components can be seen adorning censers of this type; see a celadon jade tripod censer flanked with similarly modelled handles from the Avery Brundage collection and now in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated in Rene-Yvon Lefebvre d'Argence, Chinese Jades in the Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco, 1977 pl. LIV; another sold in our New York rooms, 19th March 2007, lot 633; and one resting on a circular foot sold at Christie's New York, 26th March 2010, lot 1099.
The pronounced lotus flower knop may have been inspired by jade carvings which originated in Hindustan in the Mughal periods and introduced into China from the middle of Qianlong's reign. While Mughal jades are characterised by thinly-carved walls and florid designs, the present censer is deeply rooted in archaic Chinese traditions as well as retaining the weightiness of the body in appreciation of the highly valued medium. Censers with related lotus knops include one sold in our London rooms, 29th November 1977, lot 280; and another sold at Christie's London, 7th April 1982, lot 334.
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