Lot 40, A rare jade and gold inlaid bronze spoon, bi, Warring States Period-Han Dynasty; 20cm (8in) high. Estimate HK$ 400,000 - 600,000 (€46,000 - 69,000)Sold for HK$ 1,720,000 (€ 204,033). Photo: Bonhams.

The flat petal-shaped pale green jade receptacle, decorated with scrolls in low relief, fitted within a bronze oval casing with a band of gilt scrolls, attached by gilt-bronze fittings to a double rope-twist carved green and brown jade handle with a scroll-incised trapezoidal terminal. 

NoteThis form of this spoon may derive from archaic ritual bronze bi 匕 spoons or ladles, dating from the Western Zhou and Eastern Zhou dynasties, which are characterised by similar pointed flat ends. An example of an early Warring States period bronze bi was excavated from the tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng, illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji 10: Dongzhou 4, Beijing, 1998, pl.147; another example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession no.24.72.20.

Compare the double rope-twist carved jade handle of the current lot to a group of four similarly carved fluted rings, dated Warring States period, also to a inlaid bronze and jade garment hook with similarly ribbed jade elements, dated late Warring States to Western Han periods, all illustrated by T.Lawton, Chinese Art of the Warring States Period: Change and Continuity, 480–222 B.C., Washington D.C., 1982, figs.125-128 and 71.

These bronze bi spoons, probably descend from Neolithic period spoons made of animal bones with similarly flat and pointed ended 'dagger-shaped' forms. Several of these Neolithic period utensils have been found in deposits throughout China, including one excavated in Peiligang in Quyang, Henan, in 1977, dated 8000-7500 BC. Scholars believe they were used as a tool to cut meat or scoop food from a pot or bowl. See Q.E.Wang, Chopsticks, A Cultural and Culinary History, Cambridge, 2015, pp.18-19.