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Rare Imperial Ming-style underglaze-blue and copper-red vase, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795) sold for HK$23,500,000 (US$3,003,514). Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- Bonhams Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art department presented a tightly curated collection across two sales including its bi-annual Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale followed by a single-owner collection of Chinese jades from The Durwin Tang Collection. Taking place on 27 November, the combined total of both sales achieved HK$73,550,000 (US$9,395,700) with a 79% sold by lot rate. 

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art 
A crowded room gathered at Bonhams’ Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale as a rare Imperial Ming-style underglaze-blue and copper-red vase, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795) hammered down at HK$23,500,000 (US$3,003,514), close to four times higher than its pre-sale estimate of HK$6,000,000-9,000,000 (US$770,000 - 1,100,000). The important piece originated from the collection of the eminent Chinese statesman and collector Tang Shaoyi (1862 - 1938), who served the Imperial Chinese Government as a senior diplomat and politician and was appointed as the first Prime Minister of the Republic of China in 1912. 
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Rare Imperial Ming-style underglaze-blue and copper-red vase, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795) sold for HK$23,500,000 (US$3,003,514). Photo: Bonhams.
Cf. my post: An exceptionally rare Imperial Ming-style underglaze-blue and copper-red vase, jiu'er zun, Qianlong seal mark and of the period

Another prized object among collectors was an exceptionally rare Imperial carved yellow and red lacquer ‘dragon’ tray, Wanli mark and dated to 1592 and of the period, which sold for HK$5,500,000 (US$702,950) after frenzied bidding within the auction room and by phone – close to 7 times its original estimate of HK$800,000 - 1,200,000 (US$100,000 - 150,000). 

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Lot 52. An exceptionally rare Imperial carved yellow and red lacquer 'dragon' tray, Wanli mark cyclically dated Renchen year, corresponding to 1592 and of the period; 31.7cm (12 1/2in) long. Sold for HK$ 5,500,000 (€ 617,436)© Bonhams.

Cf. my post: An exceptionally rare Imperial carved yellow and red lacquer 'dragon' tray, Wanli mark cyclically dated Renchen year, 1592

Key highlights from the sale included: 

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Lot 79. A very rare gilt-bronze figure of Guanyin, Yuan-Ming Dynasty; 35cm (13 3/8in) high. Estimate HK$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 (US$380,000 - 510,000)Sold for HK$ 5,380,000 (€ 603,965). © Bonhams.

The bodhisattva seated regally in lalitasana, with the left hand resting on top of the left knee, the right arm holding a jewel and supported by a curved three-legged armrest continuing around the back, the goddess adorned with elaborate beaded jewellery and a foliate crown centered by the figure of Amitabha Buddha above the contemplative face with downcast eyes, wearing a sanghati and antaravasaka tied above the waist falling in graceful folds around the legs further embellished with beaded jewellery.

ProvenanceAndrew F. Chandler, Hancock Park, California.

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Andrew F. Chandler, Los Angeles, circa 1970s

Andrew F. Chandler (d.2015) was the second son of the Ralph J. Chandler, a shipping executive who also was a nephew of Harry Chandler, second publisher of the Los Angeles Times, and Lenore Gantt Chandler. The Chandler family were known Los Angeles philanthropists and contributors to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Music Centre. 

Note: Meticulously cast with extraordinary attention to detail, the present figure would have been commissioned for worship in an important temple or an altar belonging to an elite member of society. 

Radiating compassion with his slightly downward gaze and gentle smile, the deity, known as Avalokiteshvara, the 'Bodhisattva of Compassion' and 'protector of the world', is the subject of the 24th chapter of the 'Lotus Sutra', in which he attempts to save all sentient beings from the suffering of the world. Modelled in the posture of 'Royal Ease' with one leg drawn up and the other folded in front, the deity was often referred to as Shuiyue Guanyin, or Avalokiteshvara of the Water and Moon. This specific iconography was introduced in China with the translation of the 'Avatamsaka Sutra' (Flower Garland Sutra) during the fifth century. The wish-fulfilling pearl, which the deity holds in the right hand, represents the luminous, pure and flawless state of mind, which was donated to the bodhisattva by Longnu, the granddaughter of the Dragon King. See I.Wilt, Personal Salvation and Filial Piety: Two Precious Scroll Narratives of Guanyin and Her Acolytes, Honolulu, 2008, p.34.

The stylistic conventions noted on the present figure would appear to represent a further development from the simpler and rather classic tradition of Buddhist portraiture dating to the Song and Yuan dynasties. Late Yuan and early Ming dynasty figures may be characterised by more full-fleshed and ornate deities. At this time, Himalayan sculptural styles appeared in China as a consequence of the political and religious ties that existed between the Chinese Imperial Court and the dominant Tibetan religious orders. The position of the right leg, laying flat on the base, is also a variant rajalilasana posture introduced in portraiture dating from the Ming dynasty, echoing the classical Indian posture of this form of Avalokiteshvara.

The three-legged armrest, on which the present deity rests the right arm, was also a feature often encountered in portraiture of Avalokiteshvara dating from the late 14th century. See for example a gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara, Yuan dynasty, illustrated by M.M.Grewenig and E.Rist, eds., Buddha: 2000 Years of Buddhist Art, Völklingen, 2016, no.62; and another gilt-lacquered bronze Avalokiteshvara, Yuan dynasty, in the Kaifeng Museum (acc.no.KF100201). See also a Dehua figure of an Immortal, Ming dynasty, modelled with a similar three-legged armrest as the present lot, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Inscriptions and Sulptures, Shanghai, 2008, pp.207-208, no.196.

A related gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara, early Ming dynasty, seated in a similar posture and adorned with an elaborate headdress and jewellery, as the present example, is included in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, illustrated by P.Pal, On the Path to Void: Buddhist Art of the Tibetan Realm, Mumbai, 1996, p.156, pl.11. Another related but larger gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara, dated to 1435, was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 April 2011, lot 2839.

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Formely from Puwei (1880–1936), Prince Kung (Gong) of the First Rank, by repute. Lot 86. A magnificent large pale greenish-white jade 'prunus' trunk-form brush pot, 18th-19th century; 21cm (8 1/4in) high. Sold for HK$4,300,000 (US$549,579). © Bonhams.

Cf. my post: A magnificent large pale greenish-white jade 'prunus' trunk-form brush pot, 18th-19th century

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Lot 77. A rare and large Imperially-inscribed pale green and russet jade 'luohan' boulder, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 26.5cm (10 1/2in) high. Estimate HK$600,000 - 800,000 (US$77,000 - 100,000)Sold for HK$ 3,220,000 (€ 361,480). © Bonhams.

Exquisitely carved in high relief with the luohan Ajita seated in a grotto by a tall tree with his hands clasping his raised right knee, in a contemplative pose, his balding head slightly lowered with two drooping eyebrows furrowing over deep-set eyes and shoulders, his long flowing robe open to reveal his emaciated torso with protruding ribs and bare feet, all below an incised thirty-nine-character Imperial inscription, the reverse skillfully carved as craggy rockwork, the large boulder of semi-translucent pale green tone with russet inclusions cleverly integrated in the carving, box.

ProvenanceA distinguished Asian private collection.

Note: The present lot belongs to an important group of closely related Imperial jade carvings carved with a luohan in a mountain grotto. The subject matter may have derived from a woodblock print on the theme, printed in the 18th century catalogue Gu yu tu pu (古玉圖譜), attributed to the Southern Song dynasty. The luohan depicted in the present lot may be identified as Ajita, one of the Sixteen Luohans.

Buddhism as the foremost state religion during the Qing dynasty received great attention during the reign of the Qianlong emperor. The emperor ordered the Court painter Ding Guanpeng (1708-1771) to paint the sixteen luohans after the original set by Guanxiu (823-912) that he had seen during his visit to Hangzhou in 1757. The inscription carved on the present lot was part of the Qianlong emperor's appraisal of Guanxiu's painting, which was recorded in the Yu zhi wen ji chu ji or Anthology of the Emperor's Writings First Edition, vol.29.

For closely related examples of jade 'luohan' boulders carved with inscriptions see one from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, with the inscription denoting the luohan Cūdapanthaka, illustrated in The Refined Taste of the Emperor: Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Qing Court, Taipei, 1997, p.148, fig.43; another example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (II), Shanghai, 2008, p.76, no.56; two further examples, one un-inscribed but of similar jade stone and inclusions, 17th-18th century, and another with an inscription, 18th century, in the British Museum, London, illustrated by J.Rawson, Chinese Jade: From the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, pp.409-410, no.29:19 and fig.1; and one inscribed and carved with the luohan Kanaka, 18th century, from the Heber R. Bishop Collection, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc.no.02.18.640)

Possibly originating in Kashmir, images of luohans (also known as arhats) were brought to China in the 5th century AD. Their names were later identified in Chinese by the early Tang dynasty monk Xuanzang in 654 AD. According to early texts, these divine beings are advanced disciples of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni who epitomise the ideals of self-discipline and meditation. Having reached the end of the Eight-Fold Path, they have postponed Nirvana in order to remain in the world to protect the Buddhist law until the coming of the future redeeming Buddha Maitreya. For further discussion of images of the luohan, see W.Ho and W.C.Fong, 'Some Buddhist Images' in Possessing the Past: Treasures from the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1996, pp.210-217.

Compare with a related but un-inscribed greenish-white jade 'luohan and grotto' group, Qianlong, which was sold at Christie's London, 15 May 2018, lot 94.

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Lot 81. A rare and large parcel-gilt and painted bronze figure of Simhanada Avalokiteshvara, 15th-16th century; 67cm (26 3/8in) high. Estimate HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000 (US$150,000 - 230,000)Sold for HK$ 2,250,000 (€ 252,587)© Bonhams.

The deity seated in rajalilasana on the back of a recumbent and caparisoned lion, the right arm rested on the raised knee, the left arm resting on a low table atop the beast's back, the deity with a serene expression and downcast eyes below arched eyebrows, wearing loosely draped robes, the hair arranged in a single topknot encircled by a diadem centred with a small figure of Buddha Amitabha, all raised on a double lotus pedestal. 

ProvenanceA German private collection, acquired in Beijing between 1899 and 1901 by a German diplomat 
A German private collection, received as a wedding gift from the above in 1956
Nagel, Stuttgart, 2 November 2012, lot 694
An Asian private collection.

NoteWell cast in the position of 'royal ease', with the weight of her body relaxed into her left arm resting on a small stand while her right arm drapes over her bent knee, and surrounded by flowing ribbons fluttering around her body, the present figure conveys a powerful sense of majesty which is typically associated with the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Seated atop a lion with its mouth opened in a growl, the deity, known as 'Guanyin of the Lion Roar' (Simhanada Avalokiteshvara), embodies the intense moment of transcendent enlightenment. The serene expression of the deity, contrasting with the ferocity of the lion, expresses controlled power and overall harmony.

The earliest textual reference to the present form of Avalokiteshvara appears in the 'Garland of Sadhanas, Sadhanamala, an 11th century iconographic compendium assembled by Abhayakaragupta, an Indian monk-scholar, who mentioned that the present manifestation could heal diseases;See D.Patry Leidy and D.Strahan, Wisdom Embodied: Chinese Buddhist and Daoist Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2010, p.156.

Venerated in Indian Buddhism as the embodiment of the Compassion of the Buddha, Avalokiteshvara (known as Guanyin in China) is described in the 'Lotus Sutra', as capable of hearing all mankind, striving endlessly to help those offering prayers, transforming at will and appearing in more than thirty human guises to expound Buddhist teaching to devotees. The deity was associated with religious beliefs concerning the devotee's rebirth in the blissful Pure Land presided over by Buddha Amithaba. Introduced into China from India during the 2nd century AD, 'Pure Land' Buddhism was based on the belief that Amitabha granted rebirth of the dead in his wondrous realm to whoever meditated on him through chanting and prostration. The three main scriptures forming the core of the 'Pure Land' teachings, namely the 'Sutra of the Buddha of Immeasurable Life', the 'Sutra of Visualizing the Buddha of Immeasurable Life', and the 'Amitabha Sutra', all refer to Amitabha and Avalokiteshvara as capable of liberating the devotees from the Wheel of Samsara and allowing them entry into the Pure Land where they finally attained enlightenment.

Compare with a related gilt-bronze figure of Simhanada Avalokiteshvara seated on a lotus base, Ming dynasty, illustrated in Classics of the Forbidden City: Guanyin the Collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, 2012, pl.83. 

See a related large gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Simhanada Avalokiteshvara, 16th century, which was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 3 October 2017, lot 3666.

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Lot 69. A superb spinach-green jade 'Three Immortals' boulder, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 21cm (8 1/4in) long. Estimate HK$1,200,000 - 1,500,000 (US$150,000 - 190,000). Sold for HK$ 2,125,000 (€ 238,554)© Bonhams.

Meticulously carved on one side with three elderly Immortals, one holding a fruiting peach branch while the other two carrying a peach and a lingzhi stem, crossing over a bridge and approaching the steps of a pavilion, surrounded by craggy rockwork and winding up towards a stone terrace with two flower vases on tables, all flanked by gnarled wutong and pine trees, the reverse with two stags under a wutong tree, the scene framed by mountain bluffs as if seen through an opening in the mountain, the attractive semi-translucent stone of bright spinach-green tone with russet skin skillfully incorporated into the design of the boulder, stand. 

Provenance: An important Asian private collection.

Note: Impeccably carved in multiple layers of relief and intricate details to suggest a mountainous landscape, the present jade boulder is an exceptional example displaying the highest level of craftsmanship achieved in this medium during the 18th century. The outstanding skill of the master carver is exemplified by the perfectly carved and carefully composed animated scene, which is enhanced the translucent and luminous tone of the remarkable spinach-green jade stone. Every detail of the composition has been well executed: from the sensitive modelling of the Immortals, carved with the head tilted back to observe the others, to the naturalistic rendering of the gnarled trees - all whilst revealing and reveling in the exceptional natural properties of the jade stone.

The carving has been created to maximise the use of the entire boulder to waste as little of the precious material as possible, evident in the clever integration of the natural russet skin of the stone in rendering the tree leaves and the craggy rocks.

The Qianlong emperor advocated that jade mountains and carved panels should carry the spirit of paintings by famous past masters. It is recorded that a number of classical paintings from the emperor's own collection were ordered to be reproduced in jade, such as the well-known painting entitled 'Travellers in the Mountain' by the Guan Tong of the Five Dynasties (907-960 AD).

Jade boulders featuring Immortals or elderly sages in mountainous landscapes belonged to the classic repertoire of the Imperial jade workshops during the 18th century. The three Immortals carved on the present boulder may refer to the classical Chinese proverb known as 'Three laughs at Tiger Brook' 虎溪三笑, which represents the ideal harmonious relations between Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism. 

Compare with a related spinach-green jade 'Three Immortals' boulder, Qing dynasty, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Jasper Wares of Qing Dynasty Collected by the Palace Museum and Manasi, Beijing, 2014, pp.266-267, no.109. See also another related white jade screen carved with similar subject matter, Qing dynasty, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in The Refined Taste of the Emperor: Special Exhibition of Archaic and Pictorial Jades of the Qing Court, Taipei, 1997, pp.204-205, no.71.

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Lot 85. A rare and large huanghuali 'magnolia' scroll pot, 17th-18th century; 20cm (7 7/8in) high. Estimate  HK$200,000 - 300,000 (US$26,000 - 38,000). Sold for HK$ 1,375,000 (€ 154,359)© Bonhams.

The large naturalistic vessel deftly carved with tall curved walls carved as overlapping magnolia petals, the exterior superbly carved in relief with gnarled branches issuing buds and blossoming magnolia flowers, the material of warm dark-honey tone.

NoteCompare with a similar but smaller zitan brushpot, late Ming dynasty and with a signature of Wen Fu, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings, Hong Kong, 2002, no.23.

See a related brushpot, Qing dynasty, which was sold at Bonhams London, 16 May 2013, lot 378. Compare also with a related large huanghuali brushpot, 17th century, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 3 June 2015, lot 2946.

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Lot 80. A very rare pale green jade 'Manjushri and Kalika' boulder, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 20.1cm (8in) high. Estimate HK$500,000 - 800,000 (US$64,000 - 100,000). Sold for HK$ 875,000 (€ 98,228). © Bonhams.

Provenance: An important Asian private collection.

Note: The remarkable jade boulder is carved with two Buddhist deities: Manjushri riding atop a Buddhist lion and holding a ruyiand the luohan Kalika, shown alongside the elephant. Manjushri, one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, is a meditational deity and considered a fully enlightened Buddha. Riding the lion represents the use of wisdom to tame the mind, which is compared to riding or subduing a ferocious lion. The elephant (which in this carving is shown tended by Kalika) symbolises Buddhist might, associated with the animal's immense strength and power, endurance and perseverance.

Jade mountains carved with Buddhist figures are more often depicted with a single luohan in a grotto, making the present jade mountain particularly rare with its unusual representation of both Manjushri and Kalika. 

The master carver demonstrated his consummate skills not only in the detailed carving of the figures and landscape but in the clever use of the stone to create a picturesque multi-layered three-dimensional openwork grotto. Compare a related jade mountain, 18th/19th century, also carved in openwork at the upper section, in the Heber R. Bishop Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc.02.18.531). See a related white, grey and russet jade mountain, 18th century, also carved with openwork, which was sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2011, lot 1508.

Tang’s Hall of Precious: The Durwin Tang Collection of Chinese Jades 
Bonhams presented a collection of 90 pieces of Chinese jades assembled by the distinguished and highly respected late Hong Kong dealer and collector Mr Durwin Tang (1955-2018) featuring a rich variety of jade carvings, dating from as early as the Han, Tang and Song dynasties and throughout the Qing dynasty. 

The most prized item of the collection was an exceedingly rare and important white and russet jade carving of a bear, Western Han dynasty, which fetched HK$6,700,000 (US$856,321). 

 

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Lot 108. An exceedingly rare and important white and russet jade carving of a bear, Western Han Dynasty (206 BC- 8 AD); 5.7cm (2 5/16in) long. Sold for HK$ 6,700,000 (€ 752,149). © Bonhams.

Cf. my post: An exceedingly rare and important white and russet jade carving of a bear, Western Han Dynasty

Other highlights included: 

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Lot 135. A superb white jade carving of a horse, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 6.8cm (2 11/16in) long. Estimate HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 (US$130,000 - 190,000). Sold for HK$ 1,625,000 (€ 182,424). © Bonhams.

 The translucent and even white stone exquisitely carved in the round with the recumbent animal, the head turned backwards resting over its left flank, the nose with flared nostrils below the almond-shaped eyes, the finely incised mane cascading over the forehead and neck reaching its arched rounded back and spine, the incised long tail flicked over and under the rear left leg, the legs and hooves well defined, very minor russet inclusions, box. 

ProvenanceHatik Collection, acquired in Hong Kong in the 1970s
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 8 October 2010, lot 2798
Durwin Tang Collection. 

NoteThe present lot demonstrates the remarkable craftsmanship and technical virtuosity achieved in the jade ateliers during the Qianlong reign period. The exquisite quality of the lustrous even white jade stone exemplifies the finest jade quality made available following the Qianlong emperor's conquest of the Dzungar Khanate between 1755 and 1759, where much of the jade was sourced. The jade carver whilst demonstrating his skills in the sculptural and refined details, evident in the attention to details such as the tail continuing over the hoof and below to the underside, ensured that the superb quality of the stone would be exhibited through the areas left unadorned, smoothly polished to a lustrous sheen. See a related slightly larger pale green jade horse, Qianlong seal mark and period, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Jadeware (II), Beijing, 2008, no.148.

Compare a related white and russet jade horse group, 18th century, which was sold at Sotheby's New York, 17-18 March 2015, lot 324.

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Lot 105. A pale green and russet jade carving of a lion, Song Dynasty or earlier; 5cm (2in) long. Estimate HK$100,000 - 150,000 (US$13,000 - 19,000). Sold for HK$ 1,000,000 (€ 112,261)© Bonhams.

Dexterously carved as a stylised lion seated on its haunches scratching its ear, its head raised and facing forward with bulging eyes and open jaws baring fangs, rendered with a finely combed mane extending from the edge of the jawline and cascading in thick curls down the back of the head and shoulders, the powerful beast with a lean body, its attenuated front left leg supporting its broad chest, the bushy tail tucked and flicked under the body with the curly tip supporting its right front leg, the hind leg raised up to scratch the edge of its ear, the stone of even pale green tone with areas of russet inclusions, box.

Provenance: Durwin Tang Collection.

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Note: Lions were traditionally considered symbolic of Buddhism, and representative of the exoticism of the western regions of India and Central Asia. It is said that lions have been among the most prised tributary items presented to the Imperial Court during the Tang dynasty. Large stone sculptures of lions are found at the Imperial Tang tombs, where they were usually placed in pairs as powerful guardians; see a stone lion from the Shaanxi Museum, illustrated by A.Paludan, The Chinese Spirit Road, London, 1991, pls.37-38. In contrast to earlier and more stylised and geometric representation of the animal form in the Han dynasty and Six Dynasties periods, later carved sculptures such as the present lot are rendered with full naturalistic attention to its muscular body and playful posture.

The posture of the present jade lion depicting its hind leg raised to scratch its ear is very rare. A closely related pair of marble lions, Tang dynasty, formerly in the Hugh Scott Collection, exhibited at Eskenazi Ltd., London in 1978, is illustrated by H.Scott, The Golden Age of Chinese Art, New York, 1967, fig.118, and later sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 4 April 2017, lot 3062. Compare also another similarly postured jade bear in Han dynasty style in the British Museum, illustrated by J.Rawson, Chinese Jades from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p.350, fig.1. See also another related example of a jade dog scratching its ear, Song dynasty, illustrated in In Pursuit of Antiquities: 40th Anniversary Exhibition of the Min Chiu Society, Hong Kong, 2001, no.93.

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Lot 170. A very rare white jade openwork 'boys and firecrackers' boulder, Qing Dynasty; 11cm 4 3/8in) long. Estimate HK$300,000 - 500,000 (US$38,000 - 64,000). Sold for HK$ 625,000 (€ 70,163)© Bonhams. 

The boulder crisply carved in openwork in the form of irregular pierced rocks within a fenced garden setting, deeply carved in the round to one side with three boys, one lighting a firecracker and two standing behind covering their ears, the reverse with two further boys climbing up the rocky mountain, beside a wutong tree emerging from craggy rocks, the semi-translucent stone of even white tone with small areas of sugary-brown inclusions, box.

Provenance: Durwin Tang Collection.

NoteThe size of the present lot indicates it may have been used not only as display object but possibly as a paperweight for the scholar's desk. The superb quality of the multi-depth carving of this jade boulder creates a full three-dimensional sense, whilst the finely rendered details of the figures enrich the realistic impression. The imaginative composition is particularly successful in the confined size of the jade stone and brings to mind the well-known portrait of the Qianlong emperor celebrating New Year with his family, depicting a boy lighting a firecracker, probably painted in collaboration with Giuseppe Castiglione, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in A Lofty Retreat from the Red Dust: The Secret Garden of Emperor Qianlong, Hong Kong, 2012, no.29.

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Attributed to Giuseppe Castiglione, The Qianlong Emperor and the Royal Children on New Year’s Eve (detail). Hanging scroll. Ink and colour on silk. Image courtesy of the Palace Museum, Beijing.

See a related jade brush rest in the shape of pierced rockworks, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 9 Qing dynasty , Beijing, 2011, p.82, no.69. Compare also with a related but larger example of a white jade mountain boulder, which was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29 May 2007, lot 1416.

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Lot 143. An exceptionally rare white jade 'Immortal and dragon' group, Song-Yuan Dynasty; 5.5cm (2 3/16in) long. Estimate HK$250,000 - 350,000 (US$32,000 - 45,000). Sold for HK$ 312,500 (€ 35,081). © Bonhams. 

Exquisitely carved and pierced in openwork as a male Immortal with a cheerful expression riding atop the back of a dragon, holding on to its horns, the dragon with its head slightly raised, with bulging eyes, whiskers and finely incised beard and mane, the scales well-defined, with clawed legs, the tail curled back on its back, the stone of translucent and even white tone, box.

Provenance: Durwin Tang Collection.

143-1

NoteThe subject of a human figure riding atop a mythical creature featuring in jade carving can be seen as early as the Eastern Zhou dynasty; see a jade figure of a man or spirit riding on a mythical beast, 4th centurty BC, illustrated by J.Rawson, Chinese Jade: From the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p.361, fig.2. See also a figurine of an Immortal riding atop a winged-horse, Western Han dynasty, excavated from the Weiling Mausoleum, Xianyang, Shaanxi Province, Xianyang Museum, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Jades Unearthed in China: Shaanxi, Beijing, 2005, p.157; and compare a further jade carving of an Immortal riding on a chimera, Eastern Han dynasty, from the Desmond Gure and Arthur M. Sackler Collections, in the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington D.C., illustrated by G.Tsang, Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong, 1996, no.42. 

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Lot 129. A white and russet jade carving of a chimera, Ming Dynasty; 5.3cm (2 1/8in) long. Estimate HK$100,000 - 150,000 (US$13,000 - 19,000). Sold for HK$ 275,000 (€ 30,871). © Bonhams. 

Carved as a mythical beast in a crouching position, its head slightly turned and further detailed with a broad nose, bushy eyebrows and curly mane, its mouth agape exposing the sharp fangs, the muscular body finely carved with feathers and archaistic motifs, its curled tail is flicked to one side, the stone of a greyish white tone with areas of brown inclusions, box.

Provenance: Durwin Tang Collection.

129-1

NoteThe design of the present mythical beast was directly inspired by the powerful mythical beasts used as tomb protectors from as early as the Han dynasty. Whilst displaying later features than Han dynasty jade mythical beasts, such as the flat nose and finely detailed curls and spirals, the carver successfully retained the sense of movement and energy through the diagonally extended front leg and the outstretched hind leg.

Compare with a closely related white jade chimera, Song-Ming dynasty, illustrated by G.Tsang Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong, 1996, no.123.

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Lot 140. A rare yellow and russet jade 'dragon' carving, 17th-18th century; 8cm (3 1/8in) long. Estimate HK$120,000 - 150,000 (US$15,000 - 19,000). Sold for HK$ 150,000 (€ 16,839). © Bonhams. 

Boldly carved in openwork in the form of a dragon amidst scrolling foliage, its head raised detailed with bulging eyes and curled whiskers, the mouth open exposing sharp teeth, the body further detailed with C spirals ending with a C-scroll tail, the stone of an even yellow tone with russet inclusions, box.

Provenance: Durwin Tang Collection. 

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NoteThe S-shaped form of the dragon and the C-spirals decorated on its body are inspired by the archaic jade dragon pendants of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, many of which were collected in the Qing Court; see a number of S-shaped jade dragon pendants, Warring States period, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 3 Spring and Autumn period and Warring States period, Beijing, 2011, pp.155-166, nos.158-169.

Compare with a pair of yellow jade dragon-fish vases, Qing dynasty, from the Qing Court Collection, with related noses and bulging eyes, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 8 Qing dynasty, Beijing, 2011, p.229, no.188.

See also a related yellow jade archaistic pendant, Qianlong, which was sold at Christie's New York, 24 March 2011, lot 1551; and compare with another related yellow and russet jade dragon-fish pendant, 17th century, which was sold at Christie's London, 6 November 2012, lot 87.

 

Asaph Hyman, Global Head, Chinese Art, commented: “We were delighted with the strong results across all categories, underlining the depth of the market. It was a privilege to handle the Tang Shaoyi vase and many other Imperial works of art, and importantly to be chosen to offer the Durwin Tang Collection of jades whose robust performance is a testament to his connoisseurship. A further selection from the Durwin Tang collection will be offered in London in May 2019.” 

Xibo Wang, Head of Department, commented: “The buzz of the public during the exhibition and auction was a testament to the continuous interest in fine and rare ceramics and works of art, with strong provenance and fresh to the market. We were delighted with the results and look forward to welcoming all again in May 2019."
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