Lot 107. An exceedingly rare gilt and silvered glass-inlaid bird-form fitting, Eastern Zhou - Han dynasty (770 BC-220 AD). Height 4 3/8 in., 11 cm. Estimate 30,000 — 50,000 USD. Lot Sold 68,750 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
elaborately cast in the form of a mythical bird depicted frontally, with its head modeled in high relief, detailed with black glass-inlaid eyes and a short pointed beak, its wings outstretched accentuated with silver scrolls, its long gently curved tail extending upward into a fan shape, the reverse hollow and set with six small loops for attachment.
Provenance: Frank Caro, successor to C.T. Loo, New York, 4th June 1959.
Collection of Stephen Junkunc III (d. 1978).
Exhibited: An Exhibition of Chinese Bronzes, C.T. Loo & Co., New York, 1939, pl. XXVII, no. 122.
Note: Remarkable for its unusual form and sumptuous decorative style, gilt and silvered fittings of this type are extremely rare. Only one other example appears to be published, possibly a pair to the present fitting, reportedly discovered in Luoyang, sold at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 4th December 1952, lot 41 (fig. 1). Fittings of this type usually functioned as an ornamental object, as evidenced by the small loops set to the back. A related fitting, cast in the form of frontal ram head flanked by two crouching wolves, set with a vertical loop to the back, identified as a bridle ornament, from North China and dated 3rd century B.C., from the Therese and Erwin Harris Collection, is included in the exhibition, Trader and Raiders on China's Northern Frontier, Washington, D.C., 1995, cat. no. 55. Compare also a glass-inlaid gilt bronze mythical bird, rendered with a similarly styled head, dating to the Warring States/early Western Han dynasty, exhibited Archaic Chinese Bronzes, Jades and Works of Art, J.J. Lally & Co., 1994, cat. no. 60.
A similar bird-form fitting, possibly the pair to the present lot, sold at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 4th December 1954, lot 41.