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Lot 2720. A figural rhinoceros horn libation cup, Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century; width 15.2 cm., 6 in. Estimate 700,000—900,000 HKDLot Sold 4,340,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 

the amber and black toned horn carved with the scene of King Wen of Zhou inviting the retired scholar Jiang Ziya to return to official duties, the scholar seen opposite the handle seated beneath a willow tree fishing on the banks of the a river with the king standing next to him, behind a rock an attendant stands holding a large fan, on the opposite side a canopy and fan float above the clouds, the handle formed by openwork paulownia and pine trees intertwined with a large rocky outcrop, the pine tree extending over the lip and on to the interior.

Provenance: Christie's London, 8th June 1987, lot 129.
Collection of Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc49.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 161.

Note: The deep and fluid fashioning of three figures in a rocky landscape makes this vessel an especially fine example amongst figural landscape carvings. The story depicted on the vessel is that of the legend of Jiang Ziya, also known as Taigong Wang (The Great Duke's Hope), who was called upon by King Wen of the Zhou dynasty to serve as his prime minister. The scene on the cup shows King Wen's encounter with Jiang who is seated on the bank of the river Wei fishing. Following this meeting Jiang was invited to the king's court where he served two generations of Zhou rulers and became one of China's greatest military strategists. While the two figures on the cup are depicted as scholars, reference to their identity, especially to that of the emperor, is made by the third figure hiding behind a rock holding the king's fan. Another fan can be seen in the background next to a half concealed imperial canopy. Both the fan and the canopy are associated with royalty. The image carved on this cup has many Confucian connotations, making it a suitable gift to a scholar or official.

For examples of rhinoceros horn carvings with historical figures see one in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, carved with the figure of Wei Shu Xiang, included in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 286; and another, depicting the poet Li Bai, formerly in the collection of Dr. Ip Yee and now in the Palace Museum, Beijing, published ibid., pl. 288.

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Lot 2721. A small figural rhinoceros horn libation cup, Ming dynasty, 16th century; width 11.5 cm., 4 1/2 in. Estimate 500,000—700,000 HKDLot Sold 4,220,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's

the honey-toned round cup carved on the exterior with three boys navigating along the edge of a rocky cliff, one of the boys depicted grasping the openwork trunk of a flowering tree with one hand while finding his footing along the narrow ridge and holding a leaf with his free hand, on the other side two boys brace each other on the edge of a rocky path, further along peonies spring from the rocks, the interior lightly carved with the jagged edges of the cliff.

Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 25th September 1986, lot 274.
Collection of Franklin Chow.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 158.

Note: Finely carved with an image of children at play, a design sporadically seen on rhinoceros horn vessels, this bowl is appealing for its deep carving and weighty form, possibly intended to contain water for the scholar's table where it would have been placed together with his other materials for writing and painting. The light honey tone, which is the natural colouration of the vessel is especially pleasing, and suggests an early attribution. Jan Chapman in The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, op.cit., p. 60, notes that the yellow and honey colours are thought to be the result of the natural ageing process of the horn and some of the earliest known carvings are described as being yellow in colour. Vessels of this light tone are almost invariably associated with the best quality carvings. The exceptional finish of the base, in the form of a smooth rock, is also worth noting. Although the base is not exposed, the carver has nevertheless fashioned it with great care, displaying the high level of attention paid to every detail.

The inspiration for the design is possibly from slightly earlier, Chenghua period (1463-1487), doucai cups painted with boys at play in a rocky garden setting, as seen on a cup included in the Catalogue of the Special Exhibition of Ch'eng-hua Porcelain Ware, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2003, cat. no. 139.

Compare also a cup depicting playing children, sold in these rooms, 20th November 1984, lot 526; and another from the collection of George Headley, sold at Christie's New York, 1st December 1983, lot 715.

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Lot 2706. A plain rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century; width 17 cm, 6 3/4 in. Estimate 600,000—800,000 HKDLot Sold 3,860,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's

the rich honey-tone horn with a flaring rim tapering to a black oval foot, the natural nodules along the lip of the horn and groove to one side left uncarved, the interior left plain with a broad rim, the surface with a rich golden brown smooth patina

Provenance: Christie's London, 15th June 1987, lot 274.
Collection of Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc50.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 65.

Note: The only undecorated cup in this collection, this vessel exhibits a commanding presence with its simple organic form. It is carved from an impressive and beautiful Great Indian rhinoceros horn as indicated by the groove which can be seen on one side of the body and by the nodules that are clustered around the lip.

It is more common to find rhinoceros horn vessels that have been carved with designs rather than those left completely undecorated, with the material's original form and natural colour retained. The carver has highlighted the quality of his material in the most elegant fashion, even working around the nodules at the lip which occur naturally. The rich honey tone of the horn also makes this piece stand out.

There are only three plain vessels out of a total of 219 in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, of which one is illustrated in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 146, pl. 170. See another plain cup included in Soame Jenyns, 'The Chinese Rhinoceros and Chinese Carvings in Rhinoceros Horn', Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 29, 1954-1955, pl. 24A, fig. 1; and a third example, in the British Museum, London, published in Derek Gillman, 'A Source of Rhinoceros Horn Cups in the Late Ming Dynasty', Orientations, December 1984, fig.3.

A number of undecorated cups have been sold at auction: for example, one from the collections of Nils Nessim and Gerard Arnhold, was sold in our London rooms, 26th February 1982, lot 335; another was sold in these rooms, 18th May 1988, lot 320; and a third vessel was sold at Christie's London, 15th December 1980, lot 42.

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Lot 2702. A rare 'Pine and Rabbit' rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century; width 15.5 cm., 6 1/8 in. Estimate 1,200,000—1,500,000 HKD. Lot Sold 3,620,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

carved in high relief and openwork with two gnarled pine trees with branches wrapped around the sides, set with a rabbit crouched beneath a full moon and wispy clouds overhead, the interior mouth carved with branches overhanging the lip, the horn of rich chestnut patina.

Provenance: John Sparks, London, 1978.
Collections of Edward T. Chow and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc30.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 170.

Note: This cup is finely carved and the modelling, especially that of the hare gazing up at the moon which is half hidden behind swirling night clouds, is imbued with elegance and vitality. Edward Chow refers to it in his notes as diaogong canglao, wanzheng wu shang, diaogong huayi xi shao ('the carving has age, it is in perfect condition with no damage, the design is poetic and sparse').

The hare seen on this cup is gazing up at the moon which is half hidden behind the night clouds. The theme depicted here is likely to be associated with the God of Moon, Yuelao, or with the hare's relationship with the moon. According to ancient legends, the hare lived on the moon with Chang'e, the Goddess of the Moon, spending its days mixing the elixir of life in a mortar to make the pill of immortality so that Chang'e could return to earth to see her lover. There was also a belief that the hare is impregnated through gazing at the moon, suggesting that vessels decorated with this motif were made as marital gifts with the wish for many descendants.

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Lot 2724. A 'pine' rhinoceros horn libation cup, Qing dynasty, 18th century; width 16.5 cm., 6 1/2 in. Estimate 500,000—700,000 HKD. Lot Sold 3,380,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011.

the well-polished horn of auburn tone, carved as a wide shallow cup tapering to a small flat foot, carved on the exterior to one side with a reticulated gnarled pine tree handle with branches wrapping the sides of the entire cup, and with one branch extending over the rim onto the interior, the surface further textured with shallow oval patches representing tree bark, wooden stand.

Provenance: Collections of Edward T. Chow (purchased in London, 1961) and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc29.

Note: One of the early acquisitions for his collection, Edward Chow describes this cup as diaoke shifen canglao keai ('the carving is of age and is extremely adorable') and attributes it to the early Qing period. The exterior surface of the vessel is carved with the scales of the bark of a mature pine tree. It shows the high level of care and skill of its maker. Objects decorated with pine tree were invariably made for the scholar-literati who appreciated the vessel not only for its form but for what the pine tree symbolizes: longevity.

For examples of rhinoceros horn cups decorated with the pine motif see one in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, included in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 229, where the craftsman has used both a plain background and a small area of bark background against which a life-like pine branch with numerous needles is portrayed. Compare also a cup from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, published in 'Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings', International Asian Antiques Fair, Hong Kong, 1982, pl. 38; another sold at Christie's New York, 25th March 2010, lot 819, from the estate of Nils Nessim, Stockholm; and one sold at Christie's London, 12th May 2009, lot 29.

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Lot 2723. A double-handed rhinoceros horn libation cup. Qing dynasty, 17th-18th century; width 12 cm, 4 3/4 in. Estimate 800,000—1,200,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,660,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

highly polished of amber tone, the conical cup carved in openwork with two gnarled prunus branches set on opposite sides, the branches extending over the lip of the cup and wrapping along wall of the exterior over the finely carved low-relief archaistic bands, all set between a leiwen border at the mouth and around the tall hollow foot ring, the interior rim pared down slightly thinner than the interior central well, wooden stand.

Provenance: Collections of Edward T. Chow (purchased in Hong Kong, 1963) and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: One Man's Taste. Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion, Galleries of the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1988, cat. no. R17.
Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc17.

Literature: Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999. pl. 79.

Note: Carved from the solid part of an Asian horn, the present cup is unusual for its form and the blending of two distinct types of decorative styles: bronze-archaism and floral designs. It is rare to find double-handed rhinoceros horn cups, although an undecorated example, in the collection of Dora Wong, is published in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 48. See another plain quatrefoil form cup with two handles sold at Christie's London, 13th December 1976, lot 8, and again, in these rooms, 22nd May 1979, lot 291.

While the shape of this vessel is based on a bronze prototype, and hence, fittingly carved with an archaistic design of stylized dragons and taotie mask in low relief, the two handles are the craftsman's innovative contribution to the design. The prunus branches are not only pleasing to the eye but bring a sense of 'softness' to the shape. The overall effect is a highly decorative and masterly carved contemporaneous vessel with the much favoured archaistic touch. Chapman lists a number of carvings that fit into the 'archaistic-combination' category which she describes as a small group of vessels predominantly archaistic in shape but decorated with flora and fauna elements combined with those of an archaistic character; see two examples in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, included in Chapman, op.cit., pl. 194 and pl. 196, and one in the Gerard Levy collection in Paris, ibid., pl. 195.

The light translucent colouration and the small delicate size of the cup are also worth noting. Edward Chow in his notes describes the vessel as jiaose danhuang touming, zuke bawan ye ('the horn is of light yellow colouration and is transparent, can be held as a 'plaything' by its foot').

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Lot 2710. A rhinoceros horn 'jue' libation cup, 17th century; width 11 cm, 4 3/8 in. Estimate 200,000—300,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,420,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

carved in the form of the archaic bronze drinking vessel, jue, with a deep U-shaped body flaring at the rim, one side carved with a channelled spout opposite an extended rim tapering to a point, the exterior carved in low relief with a wide register of archaistic taotie masks on a leiwen ground divided into sections by vertical flanges, set below the rim with a band of three chilong writhing in and out of clouds, one side set with a thin openwork handle issuing from the mouth of a taotie mask, all supported on three splayed blade legs, the horn of auburn tone with an attractive patina.

Provenance: Collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
Sotheby's Los Angeles, 20th October 1974, lot 129.
Sotheby's Los Angeles, 23rd October 1980, lot 1698.
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 20th May 1981, lot 904.
Christie's London, 17th December 1981, lot 369.
Collection of Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc52.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 8.

Note: This cup, in the form of the well known bronze ritual vessel jue, exhibits archaistic elegance and a high level of skill exercised by the carver, who used the complex technique of bending different sections of the split horn upwards to form the splayed legs. The result is a fine example that belongs to a small and specialized group of rhinoceros horn carvings. It is after a rare type of jue that was made without the two capped posts on the rim; such as the Shang dynasty example in the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo, illustrated in Ancient Chinese Arts in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1989, pl. 36.

Whilst the vessel's form makes a reference to the past, the carver has added a contemporaneous design in the form of two confronting dragons amongst foliage and a third full-faced one amongst lingzhi fungus, all carved on the vessel's flaring rim.

Compare a rhinoceros horn jue decorated with the taotie design illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Shanghai, 2001, pl. 205, together with a four-legged ding form cup, pl. 206, and a tripod ding vessel, pl. 207. Another jue of similar size to the present example but with a wider rim, from the collection of H. G. Beasley, was sold in these rooms 22nd May 1984, lot 263; and one with two capped posts was also sold in these rooms, 19th November 1986, lot 334.

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Lot 2708. A rhinoceros horn libation cup with a scholar. Ming Dynasty, 16th-17th century; height 10 cm, 4 in. Estimate 700,000—900,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,300,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

the well-polished small cup of warm amber tone, carved in high relief with the scholar Dongfang Shuo wearing long flowing robes holding a sprig of peaches, followed by an attendant on the other side of the cup surrounded by over sized peach blossoms, the back of the horn carved with a gnarled peach tree with branches extending over the rim onto the interior, wooden stand.

Provenance: Spink & Son, London, 1978.
Collections of Edward T. Chow and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: One Man's Taste. Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion, Galleries of the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1988, cat. no. R9.
Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc9.

Literature: Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999. pl. 265.
Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 78.

Note: Purchased by Edward Chow in 1978, this cup attracted his attention for its beautiful light honey colouration and for the unassuming simplicity of the design that is full of auspicious connotation. Chow identifies the main figure as the Han dynasty Daoist scholar-official and court jester to Emperor Wu, Dongfang Shuo, who is accompanied by a young servant boy. The scene depicted here is the story of Dongfang Shuo stealing the peaches of eternal life from Xiwangmu (Queen Mother of the West). Dongfang is shown clutching a fruiting branch over his shoulder and looking to his side as if concerned that he may be followed. The carver has brought his subject to life by giving movement to his robe as if swept by the wind. Ironically, with this act Dongfang was able to attain immortality and became a popular figure and was frequently depicted on artefacts displayed at birthday celebrations or made as gifts. For example, see a beautiful Ming period tapestry depicting Dongfang Shuo standing by a peach tree clutching a single large peach in his hands, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, included in the museum's official website.

The present cup is unusual for its bold yet minimalist carving of just two figures and a fruit-laden peach tree. The simple design suggests that the cup is amongst one of the earliest examples known, before it became fashionable to cover vessels with complex and intricate decorations. The flawless beauty of the material is enhanced by this perfect design. While no other similar example appears to be recorded, the Eight Daoist Immortals can be found carved around the exterior of a cup in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, included in Jan Chapman, 'The Chester Beatty Collection of Chinese Carved Rhinoceros Horn Cups', Arts of Asia, May-June 1982, p. 83, pl. 20. Another cup depicting the Eight Immortals, each bearing an attribute, from the collection of Thomas Fok, is published in Fok, op.cit., pl. 82.

The beautiful translucent light colouration and the 'orange peel' surface of this cup is remarked by Chow in his notes. This type of surface is often compared to the texture of a fine doeskin glove when it is stretched over the hand. Chapman in The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, op.cit., p. 60, suggests that the yellow and honey colours are probably the result of the natural ageing process of the horn and some of the earliest known carvings are described as being yellow in colour. Vessels of this colouration are almost invariably associated with the best quality carvings.

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Lot 2712. A small 'Pine' rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century; width 12.5 cm., 4 7/8 in. Estimate 400,000—600,000 HKDLot Sold 2,060,000 HKD . Photo Sotheby's 2011.

the wide shallow cup of irregular form carved on the exterior with a reticulated pine tree handle with branches extending over the rim and onto the interior, the surface further textured with low-relief ovals resembling the bark of the tree, resting on a flat base, the patina of smooth golden amber tone, wooden stand.

Provenance: Collections of Edward T. Chow (purchased in London, 1963) and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc21.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 121.

Note: Fashioned in the form of the bark of the pine tree with its characteristic scales and nodules, the present exquisitely carved cup is in the taste of the Chinese scholar-literati. The craftsman has formed the handle to represent a pine branch which climbs over the lip of the cup. Rarely seen on designs of this type is the small pine cone visible inside the well. The pine needles are meticulously rendered, consistent with the naturalistic detail of the whole piece.

The subject matter of the pine tree was much favoured by the literati who saw it as the symbol of their unyielding character. The rugged pine represents venerability and is an important symbol of longevity. While there are many pine-decorated rhinoceros horn cups, the present example is an especially fine one. For further cups in this group see one in the British Museum, London, included in Derek Gillman, 'A Source of Rhinoceros Horn Cups in the Late Ming Dynasty', Orientations, December 1984, p. 12, fig. 4; another from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, published in Dr. Ip Yee, 'Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings', International Asian Antiques Fair, Hong Kong, 1982, p. 40, pl. 38; and one with a strongly modelled pine tree with a gnarled and twisted trunk rising to form the handle, from the collection of Thomas Fok, illustrated in Fok, op.cit., pl. 160.

Cups of this type have been sold at auction; for example see one, from the estate of Nils Nessim, Stockholm, sold in our New York rooms, 27th February 1981, lot 320; and a cup sold in these rooms, 23rd May 1978, lot 84.

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Lot 2713. A small rhinoceros horn cup with a handle, Ming Dynasty, 16th century; width10 cm., 4 in. Estimate 180,000—250,000 HKDLot Sold 1,820,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011.

elegantly carved of conical form, the surface left plain save for a circular diaper ground beneath the rim on one side, opposite the delicate tapered handle issuing from a rectangular tab on the rim, suppored on a short waisted circular foot with a concave base, the highly polished patina of golden-amber tone.

Provenance: Collections of Edward T. Chow (purchased in London, 1968) and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc24.

Note: This miniature cup is both delightful and elegant. It embodies what was considered to be in the 'scholar's taste' during the Ming dynasty. The low foot supports a plain and elegantly curved body decorated with a single round cartouche containing the 'earth' diaper. The handle, also left plain, complements the overall form of the vessel with its pleasing curvature. The modelling of the cup is imbued with grace and vitality. In his notes Edward Chow comments on its beauty and says, 'kexi de zhi (I am very happy to have it)'.

Attributed to the 16th century, this cup is one of the earliest examples in the collection. It was made when rhinoceros horn was rare and considered highly valuable by the Ming court. In fact, during the early Ming dynasty the craft of horn carving was exclusively controlled by the imperial court. Artisans produced pieces that enhanced the material so that it could be fully appreciated. It was only later, when there was an increase in the supply of horn that more intricately carved designs started appearing with emphasis on skill and technique rather than on the material.

The 'earth' diaper is discussed by Jan Chapman in The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p. 149, where she illustrates a cup from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, pl.175. See also a cup, from the Sloane collection and now in the British Museum, London, published in Soame Jenyns, 'The Chinese Rhinoceros and Chinese Carvings in Rhinoceros Horn', Transactions of the Oriental Ceramics Society, 1954-55, pl. 24, fig. A1; and one in the Gerard Levy Collection, Paris, included in Chapman, op.cit., pl. 195, with two roundels containing the 'earth' diaper as its only decoration. This motif continued to be used on later vessels, however, in almost all cases, covering large areas of the body and serving as the main decorative design; see for example a guang form cup illustrated in The Palace Museum Collection of Elite Carvings, Beijing, 2004, pl. 216, attributed to the Qing dynasty, together with another vessel, pl. 221, also of the mid-Qing period.

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Lot 2701. A small bird-form rhinoceros horn cup, 17th century; width 8 cm, 3 1/4 in. Estimate 400,000—600,000 HKDLot Sold 1,340,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

carved as a shallow peach-shaped cup curving to form the body of a bird in flight, the rim set with a high-relief bird head, the back of the head extending onto the interior, the mouth of the bird grasping a sprig of lotus flowers attached to three lotus pads forming the feet of the cup, the body of the bird finely picked out with low-relief raised lines forming the feathers, the horn with a smooth, dark-brown patina.

ProvenanceCollections of Edward T. Chow (purchased in Hong Kong, 1960) and Franklin Chow.

Exhibited: One Man's Taste. Treasures from the Lakeside Pavilion, Galleries of the Baur Collection, Geneva, 1988, cat. no. R16.
Craving for Carvings: Rhinoceros Horn from the Chow Collection, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2003, cat. no. fc16.

Literature: Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 173.

Note: Carved from the whole of a small Sumatran rhinoceros horn into an exquisite and gem-like miniature cup, this is a fine and rare example of a bird-form vessel. The bird is depicted in a stylised fashion with curling feathers and with its crest peering over the lip of the interior of the vessel. Although not immediately identifiable, judging from its size, shape and crest it may be a quail which was one of the favourite birds in the repertoire of Chinese painters, potters and carvers. The quail represents harmony and peace as it bears the character an in its name, a pun for the word 'peace' (ping'an).

The maker of this cup has skilfully used his material and made the bird's head form the handle while the natural shape of the lip of the horn has been fashioned into the rise of the animal's wings as if it is about to lift off. Furthermore, the feathers on the wings gently follow the horn's natural curvature, allowing the artisan to retain the original form of his material as much as possible. The use of the horn of a Sumatran rhinoceros is intentional, as it is much more curved back than those of its other two Asiatic cousins, the Indian and Javan rhinoceros. Its stem is also more slender and in cross-section is found to be more circular allowing the fashioning of a perfect cup in the form of this quaint and auspicious bird.

For examples of bird-form vessels, see one with its long tail feathers curved down to form the cup's handle, and its back hollowed out to provide a cavity for liquid to be poured out through the beak, from the collection of the Harvard University Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, published in Fok, op.cit., pl. 174. Compare also a smaller cup fashioned as a recumbent phoenix with the bird's beak forming the handle, from the collection of Thomas Fok, included ibid., pl. 177.

Bird-form cups are known from as early as the Han dynasty when they were made in lacquer, a highly prized material at the time; see a cup in the Yangzhou Museum, Jiangsu province, illustrated in Zhongguo qiqi quanji, vol. 3, Fujian, 1998, pl. 275.

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Lot 2704. A small  'Chilong and Lotus leaf' rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century; width 9.5 cm, 3 3/4 in. Estimate 300,000—400,000 HKDLot Sold 1,160,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011

the triangular shaped cup formed from a furled lotus leaf with incised veins set with three high-relief chilong emerging from the swirling waters skirting the foot and scuttling around the exterior, the interior incised with further veining, the horn of dark brown tone

Provenance: Collection of George Hendley, New York.
Sotheby's New York, 17th April 1985, lot 135.
Collection of Franklin Chow.

Note: The low and rounded mound shape of the cup indicates that it was made using the horn from a Sumatran rhinoceros. Judging from the size of the vessel, the carver has used an entire posterior horn. The rounded base of the cup is incised with waves that rise and swell from below. Three animated dragons are depicted sporting in the waves.

See a related cup in the form of a folding lotus leaf carved with dragons of various sizes, some amongst waves depicted around the base of the vessel, formerly in the Arthur M. Sackler collection, illustrated in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 47; and another cup of similar shape, in the collection of Harvard University Art Museums, depicting divine creatures amongst waves rising up from the base, ibid., pl. 37.

Sotheby's. Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Edward and Franklin Chow Collection. 08 Apr 11. Hong Kong