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Lot 2733. A very rare white jade Dragon disc, bi, Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Estimate HKD 1,000,000 - HKD 1,500,000. Price realised HKD 3,900,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2017

The disc is well-carved and pierced on both sides with two large dragons and a juvenile dragon interlocking together; one with its head extending beyond the outer border of the disc to a flange above, and on the other end depicting a dragon mounted by a winged human and a monkey. 5 1/4 in. (13.5 cm.) long, box 

Provenance: Acquired in Hong Kong in 1996

NoteThis unique jade bi disc is carved with a rare design, and although other Han period pierced discs are recorded, no other examples of similar design appears to have been published. The main decorative motif on the current disc is dragons, and two large ones and one small dragon are depicted. The largest dragon on the upper end side extends its head beyond the border of the disc to a flange above. The dragon at the lower side is carrying a winged man. This mythical creature is associated with longevity, and a very popular subject in the Han Dynasty. An example of the winged man riding on a dragon can be seen on one of the frescos from the tomb in Luoyang dated to the Xinmang period (9-23 AD). Compare also the jade carving of a winged man riding on a horse, excavated from the tomb of Emperor Yuan of Han Dynasty, illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji 4 – Qin, Han, Nanbeichao, Hebei, 1993, p. 108, no. 147.

Compare two pierced discs, one simply circular with two pairs of dragons and phoenix, made for the King of Nanyue and illustrated in Zhongguo Yuqi Quanji 4 – Qin, Han, Nanbeichao, Hebei, 1993, p 25 no. 32; the other, a flanged example in the Beijing Palace Museum collection, illustrated in Jadeware (I), The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 257, no. 215, also has two pairs of dragons and phoenixes - however one pair is carved inside the circular disc, while the other in the flange above (fig. 1).

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fig. 1 A jade dragon disc, biHan dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

Christie's. Adorning the Kings - A Private Collection of Archaic Jade Ornaments, 31 May 2017