A pair of jade 'dragon-head' plaques, huang, Warring States Period

A pair of jade 'dragon-head' plaques, huang Warring States Period

Lot 12, A pair of jade 'dragon-head' plaques, huang, Warring States Period. Estimate HK$ 300,000 - 400,000 (€35,000 - 46,000). Unsold. Photo Bonhams.

Each arc-shaped pendant, carved with tight spirals in low relief, terminating at both ends with a dragon head detailed with a slit mouth, with a small circular aperture drilled at the centre, the surface of opaque mottled grey-white tone. Each 12cm (4 1/3in) wide

NoteOrnamental jade carvings like huang plaques, pendants and beads, were manifestations of wealth and status, and were used as funerary items for the deceased. Jade ornaments also functioned to protect and preserve the physical body. These ornamental carvings were assembled in sets according to the time's fashions. 

By the Warring States period, where long garments which required a belt at the waist became popular, pendent sets moved from being worn around the neck to hanging down a belt. A more extravagant aesthetic appeared fashionable compared to the early Zhou dynasty, with larger sized pieces of jade carvings including elaborate bi discs, beads andhuang, each typically ornately embellished with raised bosses, incised carving and openwork dragons. See Art in Quest of Heaven and Truth – Chinese Jades through the Ages, Taipei, 2015, p.82.

Double-dragon-headed jade huang plaques were very popular, as evidenced by many examples in museums. Although they vary, the dragon heads are normally carved with pointed snouts and fierce expressions. The present pair of plaques are rarer for their rounded snouts and slightly more benign expressions. Compare a related jadehuang with similarly styled dragon heads and spiral bosses, illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 3, Beijing, 2011, p.136, no.136.