Lot 1533. A rare white jade two-part archaistic hanging tally-form pendant, 18th century; 9 in. (22.9 cm.) high overall. Estimate USD 70,000 - USD 90,000. Price realised USD 506,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011.
Finely carved as a locking two-part 'tally' of shaped rectangular form, each side centered by a roundel, that on one side centered by a yinyang symbol encircled by eight archaistic characters, the roundel on the reverse with four characters flanked by archaistic birds, carved at the bottom on each side with a taotie mask flanked by bats that form the lower corners while the upper corners are formed by archaistic birds, their beaks enclosing the bottom links of the two chains that are pendent from a shaped locking yoke carved in the center on each side with two different characters, all carved from one piece of semi-translucent jade of even white tone, box.
Provenance: Charlotte Horstmann Ltd., Hong Kong, 1978.
Note: The characters surrounding the yinyang symbol represent the Eight Trigrams. The four characters on the reverse may be read, ping ding he fu ('an amulet wishing peace, stability and harmony'). The characters on the two sides of the yoke may be read, tong xin ('hearts joined') and yong fu ('forever prosperous'), indicating that this pendant may have been a wedding gift.
Tallies, also known as fu, have their origins in ancient China, and many of the earliest examples were fashioned from bronze in the form of tigers. Known simply as 'tiger tallies', they were crafted in two mirror pieces, and were used as methods of authentication or identification. One half would be held by a particular individual, and the second half by another, who would present the matching half as a means of assuring his or her identity or right to pass or enter. Tallies made from precious materials were typically reserved for individuals of the highest rank.
Compare a related white jade archaistic tally in the Qing Court Collection (fig. 1), illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum-Jadeware (III), Hong Kong, 1995, pp. 20-1, no. 16. While of a different shape, the illustrated example can be seen to lock in the same manner as the present 'tally'. See, also, the white jade archaistic 'tally' half from the collection of Stephen Junkunc, III, sold in these rooms, 17 September 2000, lot 592.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Part I and Part II Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, New York, 24 March 2011