Christie's Hong Kong, 27th May 2008, lot 1870.
Cloisonné enamel depictions of conch shells are extremely rare and no other example appears to have been published. From as early as the Tang dynasty (618-907) conch shells were reproduced in various materials; see a sancai shell-shaped vessel from the Barlow collection, illustrated in Craig Clunas, The Barlow Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Bronzes and Jades: an Introduction, Brighton, 1997, pl. 11; a 'Ding' model published in Ding ci yi shu, Hebei, 2002, pl. 113; a lapis lazuli example in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in Monarchy and Its Buddhist Way. Tibetan-Buddhist Ritual Implements in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, pl. 65; and a fine white jade carving sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1st December 2010, lot 2960.
The conch shell (sankha) is one of the Eight Buddhist Emblems (bajixiang) and as it comes from the ocean it represents the far-reaching sound of the Buddha's teachings. The Kangxi emperor's devotion to Tibetan Buddhism saw the introduction of magnificent ritual implements into the Qing court which combined the traditional canonical prescriptions with the opulent style of imperial wares.
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