A rhinoceros horn 'pine' libation cup, Qing dynasty, 17th - 18th century


Lot 770. A rhinoceros horn 'pine' libation cup, Qing dynasty, 17th - 18th century. Estimate 350,000 — 450,000 HKD. Lot sold 375,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's. 

the flared body well carved on one side in openwork with gnarled branches forming the handle, rendered issuing twigs extending across the knotted and burled vessel and bearing prunus blossoms, the patina of a warm reddish-brown colour - h. 11.5 cm, 4 1/2  in. 

Notes: For examples of rhinoceros horn cups decorated with the pine motif see one in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, included in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pl. 229, where the craftsman has used both a plain background and a small area of bark background against which a life-like pine branch with numerous needles is portrayed. Compare also a cup from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, published in 'Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings', International Asian Antiques Fair, Hong Kong, 1982, pl. 38; one, from the collections of Edward T. Chow and Franklin Chow, sold in these rooms, 8th April 2011, lot 2724; another sold at Christie's New York, 25th March 2010, lot 819, from the estate of Nils Nessim, Stockholm; and one sold at Christie's London, 12th May 2009, lot 29.

A 'pine' rhinoceros horn libation cup


A 'Pine' rhinoceros horn libation cup. 17th century. Sold 3,380,000 HKD at Sotheby's Hong Kong, from the collections of Edward T. Chow and Franklin Chow, 8th April 2011, lot 2724. Photo Sotheby's.

The exterior surface of the vessel is carved with the scales of the bark of a mature pine tree. It shows the high level of care and skill of its maker. Objects decorated with pine tree were invariably made for the scholar-literati who appreciated the vessel not only for its form but for what the pine tree symbolises: longevity.

Sotheby's. Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 02 Dec 2016