Lot 1081. A white and russet jade rhyton, Qing dynasty (1644-1911); 6 1/8 in. (15.5 cm.) high. Estimate USD 80,000 - USD 120,000Price realised USD 235,500. © Christie’s Image Ltd 2017

The cup is well-hollowed and carved on the exterior as an upturned makara or dragon with wide open jaws, a finely incised scaly body, sharp claws and scrolling wings, all on a ground of scale pattern below a narrow rope border and a wide band of archaistic bird scrolls, with a narrow band of key fret at the rim. The handle is formed as a chilongclambering up one narrow side to grip the rim with one paw. The stone of cloudy white tone has some fine flaws and highlights of added russet colorhongmu stand, box.

Note: Archaistic jade rhytons of this type have their antecedents in jade rhytons of Han dynasty date, such as the example from the Han dynasty tomb of the King of Nanyue, illustrated by J. Rawson in Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, British Museum, 1995, p. 70, fig. 61. This Han vessel (18.4 cm.) is in the shape of a horn that rises from a twisted, bifurcated tail-form handle at the bottom, and is incised around the sides with scroll decoration. By the Song and Ming dynasties, and into the Qing dynasty, this shape was modified and the sides were carved with bands of decoration inspired by that found on bronzes and jades of Eastern Zhou dynasty, as well as Han dynasty, date, often with the addition of chilongcarved in high relief. This type of later rhyton, is exemplified by the example in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, Avery Brundage Collection, and is illustrated by J. Rawson and J. Ayers in Chinese Jade throughout the ages, Oriental Ceramic Society, 1975, p. 97, no. 309, where it is dated Song or Yuan. A number of design elements of the present rhyton are very similar to those of a dark green jade rhyton in the Palace Museum, Beijing, which has a Qianlong mark, illustrated by Yang Boda ed., Chinese JadesThroughout the Ages - Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades, Vol. 11, Qing Dynasty, 1996, no. 38. The shape of the vessel is similar, and although the head of the makara/dragon is carved in higher relief on the present rhyton, the finely incised crosshatching on the scales, the scrolling wings and sharp claws are quite similar, as are the narrow rope and key-fret bands which also border a wide band of archaistic scroll below the rim. Unlike the present rhyton, the Palace example does not have a chilong-form handle.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, New York, 17 March 2017