Lot 524. A finely carved 'chicken bone' jade 'marriage' bowl, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 7 1/2in (19.2cm) long. Estimate US$ 30,000 - 50,000 (€ 27,000 - 44,000). Unsold. © Bonhams 2001-2019
Well carved with straight sides rising from a flat well, carved in low relief with a roundel featuring two ripe melons growing from leafy vines, flanked by a pair of loop handles suspending loose rings, surmounted by pierced butterflies at the rim, the exterior carved with archaistic S-scrolls, all supported on four tab feet, the opaque white stone with dark streaks and russet splashes, wood stand.
Provenance: Virginia Hobart (1876-1958), thence by descent.
Note: Marriage bowls are so-named because of their auspicious imagery, which combine to create rebuses related to a long and happy marriage with abundant offspring to carry on the family line, and were thus often presented as betrothal or wedding gifts.
In the present lot, the vines with melons carved in the interior signify the family line branching forth and bearing fruit with numerous seeds, representing future generations. The melons called gua in Chinese, combine with the two facing butterfly die, handles, to form the rebus guadie mianmian, which literally mean a profusions of large and small gourds. In addition, the butterflies also represent joyful encounters and hence, marital bliss.
For related examples with butterfly handles see a jade bowl with fish carved on the interior, illustrated by P.F.Schneeburger, The Baur Collection, Geneva, 1976, no.B11; another with the 'Three Abundances' in the interior illustrated by R. Kleiner, Chinese Jades from the Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman, Hong Kong, 1996, no.88 and later sold at Christie's, Hong Kong, 27 November 2007, lot 1503; and one more which was sold in our London rooms, on 16 May 2013, lot 143, with flowers in the interior.
Bonhams. Chinese Works of Art, New York, 18 March 2019