A carving of a boy climbing on an elephant that also incorporates the russet skin, but modelled more in the round, was included in the exhibition Post-Archaic Chinese Jades from Private Collections, Marchant and Son Ltd., London, 2000 cat. no. 87, and sold in these rooms, 8th October 2010, lot 2617; another one but with the boy holding a crop, was sold in our New York rooms, 18th September 1996, lot 3; and another depicting an elephant surmounted by a boy holding a ruyi septre, from the Richard J. Robertson collection, was sold at Christie's New York, 28th March 1996, lot 1.
Compare also a carving of two figures and an elephant with head similarly turned inwards, from the Qing Court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Jadeware III, Hong Kong, 1995, pl. 97 ; another, also integrating the natural russet colourings, in the De An Tang collection, included in the exhibition A Romance with Jade from the De An Tang Collection, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, cat. no. 89; and a third example sold at Christie's New York, 23rd March 1995, lot 207. A similarly carved figure of an elephant in the Guanfu collection, was included in the exhibition Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, Asia House Gallery, New York, 1980, cat. no. 57.
The elephant is associated with the mythical Emperor Shun, one of the twenty-four paragons of filial piety, and is also the mount for the Buddhist Deity Samantabhadra. A boy climbing or riding an elephant symbolises the wish for good fortune.
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