In the late Shang and early Western Zhou period, small carvings of birds portrayed in various guises formed a common category in the ancient jade working tradition. The little bird is depicted in profile holding two fish: one in its mouth and another by its claws below. The ornament is basically flat with a very slightly rounded surface and there is a suspension hole drilled obliquely from both sides. The features of the bird -feet, wings and head- and those of the fish are rendered with very few lines in low relief. The folded wings are defined by two smoothed grooves, while the bodies of the fish are decorated with an etched pattern of cross-hatched lines: the eyes of the animals are rendered with two incised concentric circles. The ornament is carved from a beautiful highly polished celadon green jade that now presents some beige and reddish areas with some black speckles, mostly on the fish and on the bird´s beak. For a carving of a bird with a fish in its beak from a tomb in Shandong province, see Gu Fang, Zhongguo gu yuqi tu dian中國古玉器圖典 (The pictorial handbook of ancient Chinese jades), Beijing 2007, p.130. Another bird holding a fish is illustrated in A. Salmony, Carved Jade of Ancient China, 1982 (reprint), pl.24, no.7.
Dimensions: LENGTH 7 CM, WIDTH 5CM
Condition: Good condition
Provenance: From an Austrian collection