Lot 3730. A jade 'Mythical beast' paperweight, Yuan-Ming dynasty; 7.2 cm., 2 7/8  inEstimate 500,000 — 700,000HKD. Lot sold 625,000 HKD. Photo: Sotheby's.

the substantial pebble boldly carved in the form of a recumbent mythical beast with its upper body turned towards its hindquarters, its protruding eyes, furled ears and curved horn naturalistically depicted, its mane detailed with fine incisions, the stone of a pale green colour mottled with attractive dark-brown streaks.

Note: This animated carving has been carefully carved to maximise the full shape of the pebble by being modelled according to its shape. The carver has skilfully created a sense of playfulness by combining naturalistic elements, such as the carefully combed mane and curve of the spine, with caricature-like archaistic features. Small jade carvings of this type were often found on scholar’s desks, where they served both as paperweights and as works of art in their own right.

A slightly smaller jade carving of a mythical beast was included in the exhibition, Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 147; another, carved with a knobbly spine, from the Hei-chi collection, was sold in these rooms, 8th April 2010, lot 2001.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 08 Oct 2014