Until Tue, 25th Jul 2023

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Lot 25

Buy now for €28,000.00

Lot details

Jade. China, Western Han dynasty, 2nd century BC to 1st century AD

Skillfully worked in the round as an Asian elephant standing foursquare on its short legs with its long trunk curled to its left and its tail swished to its right, the animal depicted with characteristic dorsal bumps flanked by floppy ears, the corpulent body rendered gravitating towards the ground and delicately detailed with incisions to depict folds of wrinkles. The semi-translucent stone of a deep celadon tone brown shadings and grayish-buff areas.

Han dynasty jade elephants carved in the round have yet to be found archaeologically, but some Han dynasty gilt-bronze elephants are extant, including four excavated in an Eastern Han burial site at Lijiacun, Koudian, Yanshi, Henan. See Nanjing Museum and Xuyi Cultural and Media Bureau, Jiangsu Xuyiai xian Dayunshan Xihan Jiangdu wangling yihao mu (Royal Mausoleum No. 1 of the Vassal King of Jiangdu State of the Western Han dynasty), Kaogu/Archaeology, Beijing, vol. 10, 2013, p. 36, fig. 57:1. Another relevant example is a gilt-bronze elephant recently excavated from the tomb of Liu Fei, Prince of Jiangdu of the Western Han Dynasty (and a stepbrother of Liu Che, Emperor Wu of the Han), Dayunshan, Xuyi, Jiangsu. Measuring 30.5 cm in length and 20 cm in height, this carving is depicted with large round eyes, ears pulled back, a long backward-curling nose and a tail that hangs towards the left.

Auction comparison: Compare a closely related celadon jade figure of an elephant, also dated to the Western Han dynasty, at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in Beasts of Antiquity – Important Jade Animals from the Chang Shou Studio on 4 April 2017, lot 3305 (sold for HKD 7,300,000).

Semitranslucent (because massive) deep celadon with brown shadings and gray patches


Provenance: Private collection of Professor Filippo Salviati.


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