Lot 8064. A fine very pale green jade archaistic vase and cover, Qianlong period. Estimate US$ 80,000 - 120,000 (€73,000 - 110,000). Photo: Bonhams.

The large, exceptionally even and pale stone deeply hollowed to form a flattened baluster vase, crisply and shallowly carved on the body with taotie masks separated by triple flanges, the motif repeated in the upper register on the neck and further divided by two handles carved as mythical beast heads and each suspending a loose-ring, the spreading foot also with triple flanges beneath stylized lingzhi heads framed within a decorative band, the cover also with flanges below a pair of confronted mythical beasts each suspending another loose-ring, wood stand. 10 3/4in (27.3cm) high

ProvenanceThe Joanna Lau Sullivan Trust

NotesThe present vase is a sublime example of finest Qing jade production. It is carved from a large and almost white stone, with much of the body left plain with only a smooth polish to allow the quality of the stone to speak for itself. Deliberate contrasts within the piece create a harmonious and balanced whole: for example between the smooth sides and the fine, shallow-relief decorative bands, and between the bold form and the graceful details such as the loose-ring handles suspended from exceptionally fine stylised chilong, echoing the loose-ring handles of the body. 

With its taotie mask motifs, stylized scrolls and chilong, and vertical flanges, the vase exhibits the archaism so prevalent during the 18th century. The Qianlong Emperor himself exhorted his court and craftsmen to look to China'a archaic past for moral guidance and artistic inspiration.

While a number of similarly impressive archaistic jade vases are known in private and museum collections, the present vase demonstrates the infinite variety within a strict tradition achieved by Qing craftsmen: consider for example the rare and exceptionally fine loose-ring handles suspended from chilong on the cover and the triple-ridged vertical flanges. It is however interesting to note the archaistic motifs combined with three ridges against a smooth body seen on a white jade fangyi in the British Museum illustrated by J. Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, no. 29:12. 

A white jade vase from the Newark Museum, the bequest of Joseph S. Isidor, accession number 41.242A, B, and illustrated by Joan M. Hartman, Chinese Jade of Five Centuries, Japan, 1969, shows related shallow archaistic carving against an undecorated body, and a very finely carved stepped finial. Another archaistic two-handled vase from the Qing Court Collection, but of yellow jade and carved all over the body, with a Qianlong four-character mark, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 2006, no. 66, and a white jade vase also from the Qing Court Collection, with loose-ring handles to the cover as well as the body, but of double-gourd form, is illustrated ibid., no. 68. 

A related very pale green vase from the Franco Marinotti Collection sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 4 June 2015, sale 22882, lot 42.