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A Rare Rhinocercos Horn Leaf-Shaped Washer. Ming Dynasty, 17th Century - Photo Sotheby's 

carved as two large overlapping leaves with veins inside and out, attached to a branch sprouting smaller leaves, the interior with a praying mantis perched at the base of the leaves, the material of a rich brown colour lightening at the edges, wood stand; 12.2 cm., 4 3/4 in. Estimation: 700,000 - 1,000,000 HKD

PROVENANCE: Acquired in New York, 1986.

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: Rhinoceros horn carvings of water vessels, as opposed to libation cups, are rare, although a water container from the collection of Mr. Michael de Salys Longchamps is illustrated in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, p. 165, no. 114, where it is described as fashioned to resemble a halved fruit with a rugged rind. Compare also a loquat leaf-form shallow vessel, from the collection of Nils Nessim, sold in our NewYork rooms, 26th/27th February 1981, lot 319, and again in our London rooms, 18th November 1998, lot 826. The undulating and elegant form of the rim, as well as the overall shape of the Nessim collection vessel closely resemble that seen on the present piece, suggesting the possibility that the two are the product of the same workshop. Even the thick veining of the leaves, found on the base of the two vessels, and the gnarled branches forming the handles, are closely related in style.

For examples of washers of different form, see a double-gourd form vessel, finely carved with delicate curling tendrils and leaves growing down the side and extending over the lip into the smooth interior, sold in these rooms, 9th October 2007, lot 1619; and another plain gourd shaped washer, illustrated in Thomas Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl. 59, together with a plain measuring scoop of similar double-gourd shape, pl. 55.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 09 oct. 2012 www.sothebys.com