© Galerie Zacke
© Galerie Zacke
© Galerie Zacke
Catalog Number: JAD1012-029
TIGER-SHAPED PLAQUE
White Jade
China. Late East. Zhou, early Han dynasty, 3rd – 2nd cent. BC
玉虎形佩-東周晚期, 漢代早期, 公元前3世紀-前2世紀
WIDTH 15,35 CM, STRENGTH UP TO 7,5 MM
Archaic and antique Jades

Large plaques shaped as felines in profile and representing tigers were produced from the last phase of the Warring States period into the early years of the following Han dynasty. As described at length by Jessica Rawson (Chinese Jade, pp. 259 – 262) these jade plaques, derived from earlier and smaller pendants fashioned as tigers, were produced as early as the 8th century BC. Despite their relatively large size and weight, these plaques were worn as pendants, since they are almost invariably provided with a small hole for suspension. In the present example, the hole is drilled right at the top centre of the plaque, amidst the small spiraling curls which cover sections of the jade’s surface. Actually, the hole perforates some of the small spirals – as mostly visible on one side of the object – showing that it was bored after the carving of the plaque was completed, probably in order to find the perfect point of balance for hanging the jade. The tiger is represented in profile, as if crouching, the head turned down, the strong and massive legs terminating in clawed paws and emphasized through bold, plain lines: the design is very effective and conveys the idea of the compressed strength and power emanating from the muscular mass of the animal. The head of the tiger recalls those of the dragons carved at the extremities of Eastern Zhou huang pendants, such as Cat. Nos. 31 and 32: the top contour of the slanting eye is stressed by a thick, plain band, the mouth open to show the fangs, the whiskers highlighted through tiny, incised parallel lines, the pronounced snout slightly upturned, and the ear, protruding from the head, terminates in a curl. The body is then covered with small, raised and separated spirals: these, in the the front and rear limbs area, are connected by incised lines, forming an interlocked pattern. The jade retains its original white colour and translucency in half of the plaque, while it takes a suffused pinkish tone in the rest of the pendant, due to inclusions and natural weathering. The head and front paws are further marked by dense, black spots, probably caused by high iron content: the same can be observed on the back of the animal from which the long, trifurcated tail originates, and where the jade is heavily corroded. A long, natural fracture in the stone runs diagonally through the plaque whose surface still retains many soil encrustations. The jade bears many resemblances with that from which the plaque in Cat. No. 38 was carved. The tiger plaque can be paralleled to many known examples, such as the pair in the Harvard Art Museums published by Loehr, Ancient Chinese Jades, no. 438 (http://www.harvardartmuseums.org/art/204745) or the one discussed in Rawson, Chinese Jades, no. 17:13, where several other examples from public collections are cited. See also the tiger plaque from the ex-Vignier collection discussed in Salviati, Radiant Stones, no. 108. Eine in ihrer Art bedeutende und zugleich sehr seltene Jadenarbeit eines Tigers, die überaus kraftvoll ausgeführt ist, das mehr mythische Raubtier wirkungsvoll bullig. Besonders der Kopf ist ausdrucksvoll hervorgehoben. Die Jade ist beidseitig und flach und mit einem Zierwerk versehen. Das eigentümliche Aussehen des Kopfes ist vor allem aufgrund der „Haken“ gebildet. Kinn, Zähne, Nase und Ohren drehen sich hakenartig ein und enden spitz, das Kinn hat die Form eines Amboß. Die Oberlippe trägt eine Art von geschwungen verlaufendem Bart. Der kraftvolle Schweif bildet wie üblich eine Volute. Das Dekorative setzt sich aus eingeschliffenen Linien sowie erhaben ausgeführten spiraligen Buckeln zusammen. Diese kleinen Buckel (mit eingeschliffener Spiraldrehung) werden im Chinesischen „Guwen“ (穀紋) genannt, zu deutsch „Körndlmuster“. Vor allem die Partien des Nacken, Rücken und der Schenkelflächen sind damit versehen. Im Durchlicht zeigt sich eine sehr gute Transluzenz mit einem weißen, leicht grünblau angehauchten Farbton. An einigen Stellen braune bis schwärzliche Verfärbung bzw. Einschlüsse. Die Politur ist teils noch gut erhalten, etwas Korrosion an einer Stelle des Rückens.

Expertise:
Univ. Prof. Dr. Filippo Salviati, German description: Wolfmar Zacken

Note: This jade comes from an old Austro-Chinese private collection and has been acquired in 1988 in Hong Kong