Lot 1728. The Qianlong Emperor's Bamboo-veneer Ruyi Sceptre. An imperially inscribed bamboo-veneer ruyi-sceptre, Qianlong period, poem composed in the bingzi year (1756); 34.7 cm., 13 5/8 in. Estimate 13,000,000 - 15,000,000 HKD. Lot sold 15,780,000 HKD (1,529,790 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the smooth, golden bamboo-veneer surface carved with a naturalistic curved lingzhi stalk terminating with a large head with an attendant fungus on the top, the decoration incised in low-relief on three separate planes, the knotted and gnarled, slender stalk with further minor shoots growing from the base and on the sides, the underside of the lingzhi head carved with a poetic inscription by the Qianlong Emperor in kaishu script, followed by Qianlong yuti ('Imperial composition of the Qianlong emperor' and the seal Guxiang ('Ancient fragrance') 

Provenance: Bluett and Sons Ltd., London, 1983-1985.

Exhibited: Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 121.

Note: The poem inscribed on the present sceptre is translated by Prof. Richard John Lynn as follows:

'My literary mind is that of the rhapsodies of Deyu,
and my sense of Chan is that of the poetry of Jiaoran.
Moreover, I possess perfectly natural joints,
and am wholly free of protruding side branches.
The magic arts of Luo Gongyuan are but fantasies after all,
but the gift of Sengshao is a truly suitable thing.
I only like it where pure conversation takes place,
as when I meet with noble men.'

Qianlong yuti ('Imperial composition of the Qianlong Emperor')

The poem titled Zhu ruyi ('The bamboo Ruyi Sceptre') is recorded in Qianlong yuzhi shiji ('Collected Poems of the Qianlong Emperor'), vol. 2, 63 juan, and is dated between the 10th day of the 4th month and the 28th day of the 4th month of the bingzi year (equivalent to 1756).

Qianlong in his poem refers to Deyu or Li Deyu (787-850) of the Tang dynasty who served as prime minister and was also famous as a writer of poetry and prose. He wrote beautiful rhapsody (fu) described by the emperor as wenxin or 'literary minded' which is possibly a pun for the word wenxin meaning 'the core of my grain' implying that the bamboo grain is robust and strong just like Li's rhapsodies. However, more importantly, Li was a man of eminently high moral principles (dajie) to which Qianlong alludes in his poem using the expression tianran jie ('natural joints') a reference to Li's 'heavenly endowed moral integrity'.

Jiaoran (730-799) was a monk-poet from Changcheng, Zhejiang province, with the secular name Xie Zhou. He was deeply steeped in the Daoist, Buddhist and Confucian traditions and resided in the Miaoxi temple on Xu Mountain in Wuxing. He became famous for his literary criticism and was a key participator in the Classical Prose Movement of the late Tang dynasty. Jiao, through his work, onveyed the meaning of Chan (Zen) Buddhism. His poems describe the truth about consciousness, contemplation and enlightenment. Qianlong, a devote Buddhist, spent many hours in his study reading the poems of Jiaoran and associated himself with the notion that his 'sense of Chan' was on the same level as his.

The third historical figure mentioned by Qianlong in this poem is Luo Gongyuan, a Daoist priest, who according to legends, used his magic to help Emperor Xuangzong (712-755) meet the beautiful Consort Yang Guifei in his afterlife. The poem further mentions Sengshao, who was also a priest and had compiled the work Hualin Fodian zhongjing mulu ('The Catalogue of the Scriptures Kept in the Buddha Hall of Hualin Palace') in 513 on the orders of the Wu emperor of the Liang dynasty. He was a learned monk who lived in recluse and gave up his hermitage so that it could be reconstructured and used as a Buddhist temple. Qianlong mentions 'the gift of Sengshao' which is the famous Qixia si ('Perched among Rosy Clouds Temple').

By comparing himself with famous figures in antiquity, Qianlong was setting an example for himself and for others to follow. He wrote that his preference was 'pure conversation' insinuating that Li Deyu and the others were men who were free from the taint of the mundane, political and personal ambitions and all worldly concerns that he himself had to experience on daily basis. According to Prof. Lynn, in the poem Qianlong seems to be writing as if he were the bamboo ruyi, his viewpoint acting both for it and for himself. It can safely be assumed that the poem was written for this particular sceptre.

The technique of bamboo-veneer (zhuhuang) was developed during Qianlong's reign. It involves taking the inner wall of the bamboo stem which is of light yellow colouration and applying it over a wood core which is then left plain or carved in shallow relief to achieve an elaborate decoration, often, in a two-colour effect. See an elaborately carved bamboo-veneer sceptre decorated with jade pieces illustrated in The Palace Museum Collection of Elite Carvings, Beijing, 2004, pl. 55.





Lot 1708. A boxwood imperial 'lingzhi' ruyi sceptre, Mark and period of Yongzheng (1723-1735); 39 cm., 15 3/8 in. Estimate 5,000,000 - 7,000,000 HKDLot sold 11,860,000 HKD (1,149,766 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

naturalistically carved from a single branch, the head with one large lingzhi and several attendant shoots, the stalk with burls and knots partially hollow on the back, inscribed on the stalk with a four-character reign mark, the smooth patina of warm ochre tone, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with two seals of the artist - ruyi: 39 cm., 15 3/8 in. painting: 58.3 by 75.5 cm., 23 by 29 3/4 in. 

Exhibited: Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 7.

Literature: Jean de Loisy and Alain Thuleau, La Beauté, Flammarion, 2000, p. 238.

Note: The present sceptre is a masterpiece of naturalism much favoured by the Yongzheng emperor for its simple and 'raw' appearance. During Yongzheng's reign, decoration on artefacts is generally characterized as elegantly simple and restrained. Sceptres of this seemingly unaffected form would have been made for his personal use. Technically, the sceptre is impeccable and is finished to appear as if just found in the woods. However, on close glance it is evident that the carver has skilfully applied his talent to its making and had used the long gnarled stalk creating a piece of art.

The four-character reign mark, written in elegant regular script, is typical of that found on Imperial wares made in the palace workshop, while the natural wear and patination of the object further confirms the present sceptre's authenticity. The piece is the product of the wood carving workshop, originally set up by Yongzheng's father, the Kangxi emperor, within the Forbidden City in Beijing. According to Moss and Tsang, ibid., p. 42, 'the art of moulding gourds set up within the palace by the Kangxi emperor also required the production of finely carved primary wood moulds, while some of the stands made for pieces in the imperial collection are of the highest quality and works of art in their own right. The skills certainly existed within the palace workshops to produce a ruyi such as this'.

For examples of natural wood sceptres see two illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Ju-I Sceptres in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1974, pls. 22-23, both made of birch. See also a court painting titled A Life Portrait of Emperor Yongzheng Watching Flowers, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Paintings by the Court Artists of the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 1996, pl. 19, where the emperor is depicted holding a ruyi sceptre of closely related naturalistic form.

The number and opulence of ruyi sceptres increased during the reign of Yongzheng's son, the Qianlong emperor. It was Qianlong who officially ordered the court to present sceptres at imperial birthdays and New Year celebrations. Sceptres were made in all mediums with their design left to the artists' imagination. See ten sceptres included in the exhibition China. The Three Emperors, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2006, cat. nos. 273-282, which represent the variety of imperial sceptres from the Qing Court collection and presently in the Palace Museum, Beijing.




Lot 1705. A large white 'Taihu' rock, Qing dynasty; rock: 85 cm., 33 1/2 in., painting: 39.3 by 37 cm, 15 1/2 by 14 1/2 in. Estimate 2,000,000 - 3,000,000 HKDLot sold 3,020,000 HKD (292,773 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the chalky white, porous and pitted surface pierced with holes, wooden stand, together with an ink painting on paper by Liu Dan, with one seal of the artist, framed, wood stand. Quantity: 3.

Provenance: Rock: My Humble House, Taipei, circa 1991.
Painting: Gift from the artist, 1995.

Note: The painting is signed:
Work of Liu Dan (b. 1953) from Jinling in the ninth month of the jihai year (1995)

Lu Dan was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, into a scholarly family that educated him and his siblings in philosophy, poetry, painting and calligraphy. His main teacher was his grandfather who taught him calligraphy because he believed that calligraphy distinguished an ordinary 'man' from the 'gentleman'. It was a mark of a true scholar-artist. In 1966, during Mao's Cultural Revolution, Liu was sent to the countryside where he worked as a farmer on the paddy fields. Despite the hardships, he continued drawing and writing poems and calligraphy. With the ending of the Cultural Revolution, he enrolled in the newly opened Jiangsu Academy of Chinese Painting where he was a student between 1978 and 1981. At the academy he learnt the art of traditional Chinese ink-painting, as well as Western painting. Upon graduation, he moved to New York in 1992, where he remained for the next 25 years developing and perfecting his own distinguished painting style. Liu is the master of monumental landscapes and rocks that transcend the boundaries between Chinese and Western style painting. His compositions are powerful yet delicate and elegant at the same time. Working within the framework of traditional materials, formats and subjects, Liu's work is set apart from traditional Chinese ink painting. They are not copies of the great masters of the past, but are 21st century innovative masterpieces. Liu shows great admiration and respect for the classical tradition, however, in his work he has taken the essence and has managed to revitalize and rescue something that was fast becoming stagnant and languished from the past.

Liu Dan's works have been included in a number of exhibitions such as the exhibition Outside In: Chinese X American X Contemporary Art, Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, 2009; and in the exhibition The Chinese Landscape: Recent Acquisitions, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, Mass., 2006.





Lot 1740. A boxwood 'lingzhi' ruyi sceptre, Qing dynasty, 18th century. 34 cm., 13 3/8 in. Estimate 800,000 — 1,000,000 HKDLot sold 1,820,000 HKD (176,440 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

naturalistically carved from a single branch with large lingzhi head and several attendant shoots, the curved stalk with knots and burls, the smooth patina of warm ochre tone, together with an ink on paper painting by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with three seals of the artist Quantity: 2 ruyi: 34 cm., 13 3/8 in. painting: 73.5 by 35.5 cm., 29 by 14 in.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 6.

Note:  Made of huangyangmu (boxwood) the present sceptre is a masterpiece of naturalism while in its form it closely replicates a lingzhi fungus. Despite the dense quality of the material, boxwood is said to be denser than water, the present sceptre is surprisingly light and delicate. The carver has skilfully used the natural curving of the material to shape his piece with one stalk supporting one main head and several smaller heads branching out from the stem and main head in different points. The result is effective, giving the piece a continuous line that is most pleasing to the eye.

The sceptre itself and the lingzhi fungus make this piece especially rich in auspicious symbolism. Ruyi sceptre is a talisman presented to bestow good fortune. The origins of the sceptre are associated with Buddhism and it is thought to have developed from back-scratchers used by monks and holy figures during the pre-Tang times. The sceptre was later adapted by Daoists who introduced the lingzhi fungus form head. Lingzhi fungus, a type of bracket fungi known as Ganoderma Lucidum for its lobed appearance, was thought to have magical and supernatural powers. It was used for medicinal purposes and was one of the important ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine. Daoists associated the fungus with immortality, hence it came to represented longevity, making it an ideal auspicious gift. Over time sceptres lost their original practical purpose and came to take any form deemed suitable to express well-wishing. It was the Yongzheng emperor of the Qing dynasty that the auspicious tradition of the ruyi, that literary means 'as you wish' was revived. Sceptres became an imperial object and were presented to the Emperor or members of the imperial family and high officials as auspicious gift on occasions such as promotions, birthdays and new year celebrations.

For related examples of boxwood sceptres imitating a lingzhi fungus see one included in the exhibition Arts of the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 7; another, from the Wellington Wang collection, exhibited in Palm Universe – Ruyi Sceptres from the Wellington Wang Collection, Natural History Museum, Taipei, 2004, cat. no. 115; and another example sold in these rooms, 27th April 1993, lot 319. Compare also two birch sceptres in the form of a fungus published in Masterpieces of Chinese Ju-I Scepters in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1974, pls. 22-23.



Lot 1727. An inscribed burlwood stand, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 28.5 cm., 11 1/4 in. Estimate 400,000 — 500,000 HKDLot sold 1,040,000 HKD  (100,823 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's

of irregular section with a smooth burlwood veneered top and a beaded edge, the underside reserved in natural gnarled wood, inscribed with two poems and an inscription corresponding to the year 1771, with five seals.

Provenance: Christie's Hong Kong, 1st November 2004, lot 936.

Note:  The inscriptions on this stand are translated as follows:

'Guests all gone from the studio, the autumn day cool.
Rain blown by a mountain breeze, arrowroot blossoms fragrant.
Bamboo bed and rattan mat and tea just now ready.
The mountain recluse's enjoyment enhanced he takes a long nap.
Dated to the middle of early autumn in the 36th year of Qianlong's reign (equivalent to 1771).'

The poem was written by Fang Taigu titled, Ke San (Guests all gone) and is included in the Yuxuan Ming shi juan (Collection of Imperial Poems of the Ming Dynasty), 106/23a, of the Siku quanshuYuxuan Song jin Yuan Ming siqiao shi (Imperial Collection of the Four Treasuries. Collection of Imperial Poems of of the Song, Jin, Yuan and Ming Four Dynasties).

'Where bamboos are deep guests are made to linger.
When lotuses are still it's time to enjoy the cool.'

This is taken from a poem by the Tang poet Du Fu (712-770) included in the Quan Tang shi (The Complete Collection of Tang Poems), 2400 ye, 224 juan, 7 ce.


Lot 1741. A green marble dreamstone, Jiaqing period, dated to the gengwu year (1810); 65 by 91 cm., 25 1/2 by 36 in. Estimate 250,000 — 350,000 HKDLot sold 740,000 HKD (71,739 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

 inscribed along the top with a poem, by Yuntai ti ('Cloud Terrace'), dated gengwu qiuri ('Autumn 1810') and three seals - top left Ruan Yuan shihua ('Ruan Yuan's Stone Picture'), bottom left Ruan Yuan Boyuan fuyin ('Ruan Yuan Boyuan, His Personal Seal'), and top right Tian Beng Lou ('Sky Splitting Tower'); hongmu stand.

ProvenanceRuan Yuan Collection (1764-1849).
Zeng Xianqi Collection, Boston.
Wang Jiqian (C.C. Wang), Collection, New York.
Acquired from Wang Jiqian, July 1986. 

Literature: Tseng Yu-ho (Betty Ecke), Some Contemporary Elements in Classical Chinese Art, no. 17, Honolulu, 1963.

Note: The inscriptions on the dreamstone read:

Huafu ('Painting')

Shuiyun liuhuang shangen fan
Lu guaishi ruxin tianran

On a sheen of water, yellowish brown,
mountains float on their roots,
In green strange stone as natural,
as ever could be wished.


Gengwu qiuri ('Autumn Day in the Gengwu year' [31st July - 27th October 1810])

Yuntai ti ('Inscribed by Cloud Terrace'). (The 'Cloud Terrace' was the hao of Ruan Yuan).


Ruan Yuan shihua ('Ruan Yuan's Stone Picture')
Ruan Yuan Boyuan fuyin ('Ruan Yuan, Boyuan, His Personal Seal')
Tian Beng Lou ('Sky Splitting Tower')

The last seal appears to be the name of the picture and not an actual studio name.

Ruan Yuan (1764-1849) was a scholar-official during the late Qianlong - Daoguang period. He passed his jinshi exam in 1789 and was subsequently appointed to the Hanlin Academy. His most noted work was the Biographies of Astronomers and Mathematicians.

Aside from being a fervent scholar widely researching and publishing papers on Qing history and Chinese classics and being an assiduous official with numerous postings throughout China, Ruan Yuan was also well known for being an antiquarian. He wrote several volumes on inscriptions on ancient bronzes and stones. At one time he owned more than 460 bronze pieces in his own collection.

He was also greatly interested in the art of cutting marbles of different shades to represent paintings, shihua ('stone picture'). He left a work describing these 'pictures' in his possession entitled Shihua ji, 5 juan, printed in the Xuehai tang zongke. According to Betty Ecke, the present lot was one of four dreamstones owned by Ruan Yuan.





 Lot 1714. A white scholar's rock, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 11.5 cm., 4 1/2 in. Estimate 700,000 — 900,000 HKDLot sold 740,000 HKD (71,739 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

the natural sheared cliffs with chalky white texture and buff tones, carved on the side with a small seal Baiyi hanfang zhencang ('Precious Collection of the One-Hundred-and-one Mountain Retreat'), the hongmu stand inscribed on the base with a poem by Hengyun Shamintogether with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with three seals of the artist; 11.5 cm., 4 1/2 in. painting: 94 by 19.4 cm., 37 by 7 5/8 in.

ProvenanceSun Shiyi (1720-1796), by repute.
Zhang Xicheng (1901-1962), by repute.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 76.

Note: The present cragstone, in the form of a towering cliff, bears the seal Baiyi shanfang zhencang which translates as 'Precious Collection of the One-hundred-and-one Mountain Retreat'. According to the study of Professor Stuart Sargent of Stanford University, California, the most likely person to have added this seal is Sun Shiyi (1720-1796), a native of Renhe (present day Hangzhou). Sun, born into poverty, distinguished himself by becoming a juren in 1759 and obtaining his jinshi degree in 1761. He pursued a distinguished military and political career and was appointed Viceroy to two of the eight regions, Liangguang between 1786-1789 and Liangjiang between 1790-1791.  He remained a diligent and frugal officer throughout his career, and was certainly less corrupt than many of the high officials of his day. Sun was also an accomplished calligrapher and poet, with his collection titled Baiyi shanfang shiji ('Poetry Collection of the One-hundred-and-one Mountain Retreat') printed in 1816, by his grandson Sun Jun. It is possible that Sun Shiyi added the present cragstone to his collection while serving in the mountainous region of southwest China. The Qing bai lei chao Xuan lu ('Minor Affairs of the Qing Dynasty') compiled by Xu Ke (1869-1928) records that 'Yunnan produces patterned stones. In the genyin year of Qianlong's reign (equivalent to 1770), when Sun Shyi was overseeing education in Guizhou, he obtained a hundred of the finest ones and built a bamboo house, providing water basins to nourish the stones. He called this the 'Baiyi Shanfang.' Sun possibly added his seal to the stone between 1770, when he adopted the studio name, and 1796, when he died.

The inscription on the stand, that is carved to represent naturally gnarled wood, translates as 'On the winter's day of the genyin year, for my old friend Elou on his 60th birthday. I respectfully use this stone to celebrate his birthday and to wish him many years to come, inscribing these few words to serve as a permanent record.' Recorded by 'Hengyun Shanmin (Commoner in the mountain where the clouds stretch across)'. The studio name Hengyun Shanmin was used by a number of artists and collectors, making it difficult to pinpoint with surety the owner of the present rock sculpture after Sun. However, there was a prominent collector and publisher of seals, a man of considerable wealth called Zhang Xicheng (1901-1962) who used the studio name Hengyun Shanmin and is a likely candidate to have owned the piece and had given it to his old friend Elou in the winter of 1950. Zhang was close to 50 years old at the time, so calling his friend 'old' would be appropriate considering his own age.




Lot 1709. A Black Qilian Limestone Scholar's Rock, Qing dynasty; 15.5 cm., 6 1/8 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKDLot sold 620,000 HKD (60,106 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

 the gun-metal grey heavily wrinkled stone with two distinct peaks, hongmu stand, together with an ink painting by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with two seals of the artist; stone: 15.5 cm., 6 1/8 in. painting: 77.2 by 38.7 cm., 30 3/8 by 15 1/4 in.

Provenance The Unsōdō (Ch.Yuncao tang, 'Cloud Grass Studio') Collection, Japan. 



Lot 1710. A Boxvood Brushrest, Qing dynasty; 16.1 cm., 6 3/8 in. Estimate 120,000 — 150,000 HKDLot sold 620,000 HKD (60,106 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

the lustrous and fine golden-grained wood carved in the form of a mountain cascade, zitan stand.

ProvenanceAcquired in Hong Kong, 1978.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 69.

Note: This brushrest in its simple and elegant form is a superb example of scholarly art practiced in China. The carver has created a beautiful object that is perfectly designed yet appears to retain its natural form. The light colouration of the boxwood is well balanced with the dark zitan stand that frames the piece. For an example of a zitan brushrest carved in the form of a multi-peaked mountain see one included ibid., pl. 197.

The brushrest has been named by the collector 'The Seven Peaks of Perfection' with the peaks representing longevity, an easy death, and in between, respect, sufficiency and contentment, but beyond all of these: enlightenment followed by integration. 



Lot 1702. A 'Ying'scholar's rock, Ming-Qing dynasty; 12 cm., 4 3/4 in. Estimate 400,000 — 500,000 HKDLot sold 596,000 HKD (57,779 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

the dark blacking-brown vertical cliff with a dense wrinkled surface and long crevices, hongmu stand.

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, April 1978.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 41.



Lot 1743. A burlwood root censer with a zitan cover, Qing dynasty, 18th century; censer: 24.5 cm., 9 5/8 in. Estimate 500,000 — 700,000 HKDLot sold 560,000 HKD (54,289 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

the gnarled and twisted root carved in the form of a tripod ding censer with two integral upright loop handles, the highly polished surface of rich brown tones, the domed zitan cover surmounted by a carnelian finial.

Provenance: Sydney L. Moss, Ltd., London, July 1985.


Lot 1726. An imperial zitan 'lingzhi' box and cover, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 16.5 cm., 6 1/2 in. Estimate 400,000 — 500,000 HKDLot sold 500,000 HKD (48,472 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

the of lingzhi-head form, the rounded cover carved in high-relief with branches of the fungus wrapped around the top and down the sides of the box, all terminating in a large single lingzhi head conforming to the shape of the box, the wood of deep reddish-purple tone.

Provenance: Edward T. Chow. 
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3rd May 1994, lot 314.

ExhibitedOne Man's Taste, Baur Collection, Geneva, 1988, cat. no. W13.


Lot 1711. tree 'root' table, Qing dynasty; 84 cm., 33 in. Estimate 300,000 — 400,000 HKDLot sold 475,000 HKD (48,472 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

created from a large trunk section with a flat table top, the sides carved in openwork with an intricate network of intertwining 'roots' issuing from the tree's core.

Provenance: Acquired in Taipei, October 2004.


Lot 1713. nanmu root wood sculpture, Qing dynasty; 38 cm., 15 in. Estimate 250,000 — 350,000 HKDLot sold 475,000 HKD (48,472 EUR). Photo courtesy Sotheby's.

naturalistically formed, the root oriented to resemble zoomorphic shapes, the wood of reddish-brown patina, inscribed on the base with a four-line poem, signed Wangxiang yinshu ti ('Inscribed by the Late Fragrance Poetry Master').

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, 1996.

Note: The poem on the present vessel translates as follows:

 'Deep in the mountains who knows how many years lain soundly drunk,
Dreams filled with Heaven and Earth, images in countless number.
But now sobered up, all heroes lie before me prostrate in awe,
As I raise my head straight up, ready to lift the sky!'

Signed Wangxiang yinzhu ti ('Inscribed by the Late Fragrance Poetry Master')

Wangxiang Jushi ('Late Fragrance Retired Scholar') was the cognomen of the 19th century painter and calligrapher Bai Rulin who was particularly fond of chrysanthemums, hence the use of the word 'late frangrance' for his studio name.





Lot 1716. The Empty-Headed Hermit's Ruyi Sceptre. A nanmu root 'lingzhi' ruyi sceptre, Qing dynasty; 57 cm., 22 1/2 in.  Estimate 300,000 - 400,000 HKD. Lot sold 375,000 HKD (36,354 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

from a natural hollowed root, the fine grained wood of golden- brown tone with a slight greenish tinge, together with three paintings by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with five seals of the artist. Quantity: 4 - ruyi: 57 cm., 22 1/2 in. paintings: 69.5 by 76.8 cm., 27 3/8 by 30 1/4 in. 77.5 by 61 cm., 30 1/2 by 24 in.90.7 by 22.8 cm., 35 3/8 by 9 in. 

Provenance: Acquired in Germany, December 1990.



 Lot 1729. A large black 'Taihu' scholar's rock, Qing dynasty; 57 cm., 22 1/2 in.  Estimate 300,000 - 400,000 HKD. Lot sold 375,000 HKD (36,354 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the smooth grey stone with red and brown undercurrents with white striations pierced with numerous large and small apertures, nanmu stand

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, October 1991.  


 Lot 1719. A malachite brushrest, Ming-Qing dynasty; 17.2 cm., 6 3/4 in.  Estimate 150,000 — 250,000 HKD. Lot sold 300,000 HKD (29,083 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

horizontally oriented with the natural form enhanced to create five verdant peaks with a grotto, wood stand.

Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 28th February 1980, lot 189.

Exhibited: Arts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 132.



Lot 1719. An inscribed nanmu brushpot, Qing dynasty; 17.2 cm., 6 3/4 in.  Estimate 200,000 — 300,000 HKD. Lot sold 250,000 HKD (24,236 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

formed from a hollowed-out tree trunk of irregular section, the exterior surface gnarled and knotted with the reddish-brown preserved beneath a lustrous finish, the interior base lined with a layer of hardened pliable material, the underside inscribed with a poem by Huang Zhen with one seal Zichen.

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, 1979.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 24.

NoteThe poem on the base is translated ibid., p. 60, as follows:

'On this frosted old tree trunk a distinction is to be made
between purple trunk and green leaves,
it has a heart to withstand the wind and the rain.
Bringing my qin I like to sweep clean the mossy rock at its roots.
I want to evoke the autumn sounds,
but find myself just staring at the clouds.
This poem is for the Daoist Airuo,
written by Huang Zhen.'

Seal: Zichen

Brushpots made of a section of a tree trunk were favoured by scholars and the literati for their close link with nature. The poem refers to the noble nature of the withered old trunk that represents the wisdom and experience of old age.


Lot 1721. A large black and white marble dreamstone; 80 by 78.5 cm., 31 1/2 by 30 7/8 in.  Estimate 200,000 — 300,000 HKD. Lot sold 200,000 HKD (19,389 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

mounted in a hongmu stand.

ProvenanceAcquired in San Francisco, February 1994.



Lot 1707. A miniature 'Ying' Scholar's Rock, Ming - Qing Dynasty; stone: 5.7 cm., 2 1/2 in. painting: 17.3 by 125 cm., 6 3/4 by 49 1/4 in.  Estimate 120,000 — 150,000 HKD. Lot sold 150,000 HKD (14,542 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

dark-grey, craggy 'Ying' limestone with a horizontal white striation,  hongmu stand, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with four seals of the artist.

Provenance: Spink and Son's, London, July 1985.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 150.



Lot 1704. A nanmu root brushrest, Qing Dynasty; root: 19 cm., 7 1/2 in. painting: 106.3 by 31.8 cm., 41 7/8 by 12 1/2 in.  Estimate 100,000 — 150,000 HKD. Lot sold 125,000 HKD (12,118 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

formed from a natural twisted root with burled nodes, the surface with a reddish brown patina, wood stand, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with three seals of the artist.

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, 1980.



Lot 1703.  burlwood root sculpture, Qing Dynasty; leaf: 25.5 cm., 10 in. painting: 75.5 by 35.5 cm., 29 3/4 by 14 in.  Estimate 80,000 — 100,000 HKD. Lot sold 106,250 HKD (10,300 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the knotted root hollowed on one side and set with a long bent twig, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with one seal of the artist.

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong, 1980.

ExhibitedArts from the Scholar's Studio, Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1986, cat. no. 274.



Lot 1735. root tripod incense burner, Qing Dynasty; censer: 31 cm., 12 1/4 in. painting: 77.2 by 53.8 cm., 30 1/2 by 21 1/8 in.  Estimate 60,000 — 100,000 HKD. Lot sold 81,250 HKD (7,877 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's

the integral handles crafted from the same gnarled wood, the wood of a rich golden brown patina, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with three seals of the artist.

Provenance: George and Cornelia Wingfield Digby, London.
Sotheby's Olympia, 12th June 2003, lot 1163.


Lot 1730. A bronze ruyi sceptre, 17th century; 33.6 cm., 13 1/4 in.  Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 HKD. Lot sold 75,000 HKD (7,271 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's 

cast in the form of a stalk of lingzhi with attendant lingzhi, the underside inscribed with an apocryphal Xuande mark, the rich brown patina with russet patches and golden undertones

Provenance: Acquired in New York, 2000.


Lot 1744. Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat,Walking Staves at Rest Series: No. 3, 2009, ink and colour, painted collage mounted on cotton paper with two seals of the artist, 96.7 by 211.5 cm., 38 1/8 by 83 1/4 in. Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 HKD. Lot sold 75,000  HKD (7,271 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's 




Lot 1701. nanmu root ruyi sceptre; ruyi: 46.3 cm., 18 1/4 in. painting: 50 by 78 cm., 19 3/4 by 30 3/4 in.  Estimate 40,000 — 60,000 HKD. Lot sold 50,000 HKD (4,847 EUR)Photo courtesy Sotheby's 

formed from a single piece of root, the gnarled node forming the head and the twisted stem as the shaft, the patina of reddish-brown tone, together with an ink painting on paper by the Master of the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat, with one seal of the artist

Provenance: Acquired in New York, 2000.

Sotheby's. “Water, Pine And Stone Retreat Collection - Objects cf Contemplation”, Hong Kong, 8 April 2010