Lot 1484. A small white and russet jade carving of a qilin, Ming dynasty, 17th century; 2 in. (5.1 cm.) longEstimate USD 50,000 - USD 70,000. Price realised USD USD 68,500. © Christie's Images Ltd 2011

The auspicious beast well carved in a recumbent position with legs tucked under its body, with ribbon-tied horns, scaly body, and hoofed feet, the vapor issuing from its mouth supporting a jade book that rests on its back, the stone with some areas of dark russet skin, and with lustrous polish

Note: The qilin issuing a jade book from its mouth recalls the dream that Confucious' mother had just before he was born. She dreamt that a qilin came to her door with a jade book in its mouth. The phrase lin tu yushu (qilin issuing a jade book) is used as a wish for the birth of an illustrous male child, as the qilin is believed to only appear before the birth of a sage. A carving such as this would have been given as a gift to a wealthy family on the birth of a male child.

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