Lot 32. An archaistic carved rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th-18th century; 18.7cm (7 3/8in) wide. Estimate HK$ 300,000-400,000. Sold for HK$ 750,000 (€ 89,613). Photo Bonhams.
Finely carved to the exterior with a band of trefoil diaper ground beneath a flattened rim encircled by key-fret borders, the handle formed by a stylistic mythical beast climbing up one side and biting on the rim, its bulging eyes framed by a pair of curved horns and furry mane issuing swirling mists, a mythical beast taotie under the spout..
Provenance: Li Chun-hung Collection, no.CHL43.
Note: The striking quality of the present lot is evident in the remarkable composition transforming the rhinoceros horn into an archaistic yi pouring vessel with generous curving rim, subtly carved on the exterior with a trefoil diaper ground, accentuating the three-dimensional monster-mask, reminiscent of archaic bronze handles. The superb workmanship executed on the cup clearly demonstrates it was made to be handled and admired from all sides.
Rhinoceros horn libation cups carved with high relief mythical beasts or animals are rare, but exist in phoenix, chilong, bird and deer forms; see T.Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pls.172-175, 177 and 179. See also J.Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p.149, fig.175, for a related cup with similar diaper ground, from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. Compare also two related archaistic rhinoceros libation cup, 18th century, with similar diaper ground, which sold in our London rooms on 16 May 2013, lot 361 and 14 May 2015, lot 251.
Bonham's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 2 June 2016