A rare small gold square 'butterflies' box. Incised seal mark and period of QianlongPhoto Sotheby's

of square section raised on four angular key-fret feet, the hinged cover decorated with a pair of repoussé butterflies flying amidst florets against a circle-punched ground, enclosed within a frame detailed with prunus twigs, each side of the box similarly adorned with a butterfly in flight among florets, the interior with a curved bottom, the flat base incised with a four-character reign mark within double squares. Height 4.4 cm., 1 3/4 in. The gold tested as 18k. Estimation 1,200,000-1,800,000 HKD. Lot 3220 unsold

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: This exquisite box captures the delicacy and femininity of its owner through the butterflies and flower heads that flutter against an intricate ground of tiny stamped circles. The form and decorative techniques of the box appear to have been inspired by small gold reliquary boxes of the Tang dynasty (618-907). For a gold Tang box decorated with scenes of the Buddha, see a larger example unearthed from the Underground Palace of Famen Temple in Fufeng County, 1987, in the collection of Famen Temple Museum, Famen, illustrated in National Treasure Collection of Rare Cultural Relics of Shaanxi Province, Xi'an, 1998, p. 139. 

The butterflies and prunus blossoms decorating this box symbolise blessings, happiness and longevity.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 04 avr. 2012 www.sothebys.com