This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 298
虎形玉佩- 西漢早期, 公元前3世紀-前2世紀
The tiger is represented in profile view but in this case the outline of the animal is less ‘compressed’ and the animal looks as if almost leaping forward, a sensation stressed by the stretched body, the gentle but strongly pronounced curve of the back and by the elongated head, with the jaws open. The curling spirals are confined to the central portion of the tiger’s body where they take on a bold look: they are worked in intaglio and not in low relief and take the shape of disconnected “C”-shaped patterns. The details enriching this plaque, such as the striated bands near the mouth and on the rear limbs or the etched pattern marking the front legs, are more roughly executed. Altogether it seems that the carver preferred to stress the overall outline of the plaque and the general feeling emanating from the image of the tiger, instead of focusing on details which are finer and more elaborate. This pendant, beside the usual hole for suspension, is provided with a number of cut-outs made in the stone – near the mouth, under the body and in the tail area –, suggesting that further jades could be hung from the plaque, as demonstrated from an excavated example which is the closest comparable example to the present piece.
The excavated, comparable tiger plaque was discovered in Guangzhou in the richly furnished tomb of Zhao Mo, king of the southern kingdom of Nanyue. The plaque is part of an elaborate pectoral formed by four major jades and a number of smaller pendants and beads. All other individuals buried in the tomb with the king – the queen, concubines and female attendants – wore similar pendants: however, the fact that the tiger plaque is found only in the king’s pectoral may indicate that jades worked in such shape were reserved for males of the highest rank. The jade has almost completely lost its original colour and translucency and turned brown, due to natural weathering and prolonged burial. A black and white image and a drawing of the entire pectoral is published in Prüch, “Schätze für König Zhao Mo”, p. 129.
Provenance: From an old Austrian-Hungarian collection