A very fine and rare rhinoceros horn archaistic tripod vessel, jue, 17th-18th century. Photo Bonhams
Modelled in the form of an archaic bronze with a deeply-hollowed body, crisply carved around the exterior with a large taotie mask beneath the squared spout and another behind the double-loop handle, all on a band of leiwen forming an intricate ground beneath a row of upright cicada lappets, the top of the handle cleverly carved with three small dragons crawling along and around the edge, all standing on three widely-spreading legs carved with shallow-relief feet below double borders of squared spirals, the surface of rich dark well-patinated tone. 15cm (5 7/8in) wide Lot 219Y. Estimate: £120,000 - 150,000 / CNY 1.2 million - 1.5 million / HK$ 1.5 million - 1.8 million
Provenance: a European private collection
The present cup is inspired in form by the archaic bronze jue wine vessels from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. Jue vessels inspired by the archaic bronze form were also produced, particularly in the 18th century, in porcelain, jade, bronze and cloisonné enamel. Two jue shaped rhinoceros horn libation cups from the Qing Court Collection are illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, pls.136 (late Ming Dynasty) and 205 (mid Qing Dynasty). See also a related rhinoceros horn jue cup, 18th century, from the Collection of Harvard University Art Museums, illustrated by T.Fok inConnoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.36.
Compare a related rhinoceros horn jue cup, attributed to the 17th century, sold at Christie's London, on 10 May 2011, lot 6.