Six small silver bird-form finials, China, Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220)

Six small silver bird-form finials, China, Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220)Estimate $4,000 - $6,000. Price Realized $23,750. Photo Christie's Image Ltd 2015

Each stylized bird almost identically cast with long tail and its head turned toward its back, the beak just touching its wing feathers; 2 ¼ in. (5.8 cm.) long, box; 330 g

Provenance: The Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth, New York, acquired in Hong Kong, 1991. 

NotesCompare the bronze bird-form finial exhibited by J.J. Lally & Co., Arts of Ancient China, New York, 31 May-23 June 1990, no. 8, where it is noted that during the Han period it was customary for men who had reached seventy years of age to be granted a royal staff (wang chang, 'king's staff') decorated with a finial in the form of a dove. Displaying such a finial on one's staff was a great honor and would have afforded the owner great respect and special privileges.

Christie's. THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH PART IV - CHINESE WORKS OF ART: METALWORK, SCULPTURE AND EARLY CERAMICS, 20 March 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.