This jade is published in Filippo Salviati 4000 YEARS OF CHINESE ARCHAIC JADES Edition Zacke, Vienna 2017, no. 338
龍穀紋玉璧- 西漢, 公元前2世紀-前1世紀
This exceptionally attractive disc presents a central, circular perforation and the entire surface is decorated with small raised curls, while two plain bands define the inner and outer borders of the disc. The spirals are all arranged along lines forming a regular pattern, but their tails are differently oriented – and in some cases joined, forming elegant “S”-shaped motifs – creating a sense of visual dynamism in the overall decoration. The outside of the disc is enriched with three dragon images, equally spaced along the border: the dragon at the top is represented as standing, with a long, articulated crest, an appendage descending from the chest and a long, striated tail terminating in a phoenix head. The other two dragons placed on the circumference and at opposite points of the disc, are instead portrayed facing outwards, in a more dynamic and dramatic posture: their twisted bodies design a strong, emphasized “S”-shaped curve, their mouths are open as if biting the small wing-looking appendages emerging from their backs, and the front and rear paws are firmly grasping parts of the long dragon bodies enriched with volutes. The jade has a white colour and is thoroughly translucent, excluding parts of the dragons’ bodies which exhibit a darker, brownish colouration due to inclusions in the stone. Other minor traces of surface alteration can be seen in some parts of the jade, such as in the area near the central perforation: a portion of the disc near one of the two lateral dragons also presents small iron encrustations on the surface, probably due to the proximity of the jade with some metal artefacts placed near the disc in the tomb. Similar discs can be compared to the present one: see for example the one in the British Museum, London, reproduced in Ayers and Rawson, Chinese Jades throughout the Ages, no. 97, decorated with three dragons placed on the border and presenting a pattern of small raised dots. See also the one published in Zacke, Archaische und Antike Jaden aus China, vol. 3 no. 33.
Provenance: From an old Austrian-Hungarian collection