This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 211
獸面, 鳥紋玉環- 東周, 春秋, 公元前6世紀-前5世紀
This ornament in the shape of a ring is in pale green-white jade with only minor iron inclusions which create delicate yellowish tonalities on parts of the surface. Traces of alterations in the stone, turned to an opaque white colour, can also be seen in some points, not on the surface but inside the jade itself. The decorative motifs are ingeniously carved on the surface to create an apparent geometric pattern, which, when carefully analyzed, shows instead to be formed by highly stylized animal motifs regularly arranged on the surface. The motifs are a pair of confronted birds with quite pronounced beaks alternated to animal masks in frontal view. Each motif is repeated three times and twisted by 180° in comparison to the following one, so that the pair of birds and the animal mask cannot be viewed together at first glance. However, if looking for example at one of the animal mask, the motif of the confronted birds appears oriented in the same direction on the opposite side of the ring. The space between these main motifs is then filled with small scrolls or “C”-like patterns, while other areas of the decoration, such as the horns of the animal masks and details of the birds, are finely incised with thin lines. The motifs are all typical of the Eastern Zhou artistic vocabulary but are not frequently seen together.
The closest example to which this jade can be compared is a disc presenting similar motifs of animal masks and birds arranged in the same way, first published by Salmony, “Carved jade of ancient China”, pl. 60, and then in Loehr, “Ancient Chinese jades”, no. 401. In this same volume see also the carved pendant, no. 372, illustrated also in colour, with an interlaced pattern of snakes and dragons where parts of the dragon bodies are highlighted with tiny lines, as in the disc presented here.
Provenance: From an old Austrian collection