Lot 2726. A rhinoceros horn opium pipe, Qing dynasty, 18th century; 61 cm., 24 in. Estimate 120,000 — 150,000 HKD. Lot Sold 1,340,000 HKD. Photo Sotheby's 2011
the long cylindrical tube formed from a two straight pieces of horn forming the 'stem', carved with a small squirrel and grapes in relief below the silver mounted 'saddle' finely inlaid in silver wire with a dense design of poppies, leaves, deer, vases and coins, the coin with a cyclical date yi zhou (corresponding to 1745), with traces of blue and green enamelling remaining within the wires, further set with an upright short circular 'coin' shaped neck for attaching to the bowl, fitted on each end with ivory mounts, the ivory mouthpiece pierced at the top with a small hole, the the horn of warm brown tone and a smooth patina.
Provenance: Collection of Franklin Chow (purchased in London, 1990).
Note: Fashioned using the length of a large rhinoceros horn, this pipe is an unusual example of a collaboration between a horn carver and a silversmith. The end of the pipe is made of ivory, while the working part of the opium pipe is made of a silver alloy. Pipes of this type were more commonly carved from bamboo; the present example, fashioned from this expensive material must have belonged to a member of the gentry.
Sotheby's. Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Edward and Franklin Chow Collection. 08 Apr 11. Hong Kong