This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 322
龍鳳神獸紋玉璲- 西漢, 公元前2世紀-前1世紀
Sword scabbard- or sheath-slides were used to hang the weapon from the belt and were one of the most common accessories used by the nobility of ancient China during the late Eastern Zhou and Han periods. The example here is representative of two well-known types of the Han period: they share the same form - a flat top with a slightly curved end, a rectangular loop on the back and a similar decoration.
This scabbard slide is worked in a more exuberant style, reminiscent of the jades discovered in the tomb of the King of Nanyue, which have a unique three-dimensional quality. A striding chi or hornless dragon is carved in low relief on the top: the body is elongated and “S”-shaped and terminates in a striated tail. Another mythical, bearlike animal is carved in front of the dragon, as if it was jumping out of the jade. The head of the dragon extends beyond the top border and is flanked on both sides by two phoenix-like birds carved in openwork. The stone is mostly white with black and brown markings on one end.
This jade is similar in style and iconography to jades from the King of Nanyue´s tomb in Guangzhou and can also be compared to a carving in the Harvard Art Museums which has a winding openwork dragon carved in relief on the top (acc. no. 1943.50.398), published in Yang Boda 1986, no. 146 and Loehr and Huber 1975, no. 570. See also for another example in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, acc. no. 1985.214.101, or the one in the Freer/Sackler galleries, acc. no. S1987.651, carved from a similar stone. Other similar examples are in the Samuel and Myrna Myers collection, Salviati 2016, nos. 171, 172.
Provenance: From an old Austrian-Hungarian collection