A finely carved rhinoceros horn 'Chilong and Lingzhi' libation cup, 17th century


Lot 3695. A finely carved rhinoceros horn 'Chilong and Lingzhi' libation cup, 17th century, length 16.5 cm, 6 1/2  in. Estimate 400,000 — 600,000. Lot sold 2,000,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

of conical form, deftly carved on the exterior in high relief with three long-horned chilong, each with a sinuous body terminating in a bifurcated tail, clambering amongst leafy bamboo and stems bearing clusters of large lingzhi, the base formed from further large lingzhi heads in openwork, extended upwards on one side forming a double handle of intertwined bamboo and lingzhi with a fourth chilong perched atop, the beast clambering over the rim onto the interior of the vessel skilfully rendered with angled contours to suggest a lingzhi, the glossy patina of a chestnut-brown colour, wood stand.

Note: A cup similarly carved with chilong among lingzhi and bamboo stalks was sold in our New York rooms, 10th/11th April 1986, lot 295, and again in these rooms, 7th October 2006, lot 911; two were sold in our London rooms, the first, 11th May 2011, lot 24, and the second, 13th July 2005, lot 102; and another cup was sold at Christie’s London, 11th July 1977, lot 3. See also a slightly smaller example in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, illustrated in Jan Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, pls 205 and 206, together with one in the collection of Gerard Levy, pl. 204; and two others offered in this sale, lots 3698 and 3702.

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, Hong Kong, 03 Oct 2017