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The Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings© Bonhams

The Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings was mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985. An overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in ‘Chinese Thumb Rings’, Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 134. Three jade thumb rings, 19th century. Estimate 4,000-6,000 GBPSold for £ 5,625 (€ 6,280)© Bonhams

Comprising a white jade ring with a sinuous dragon emerging from a cluster of scrolling clouds carved on the flattened russet side, the flaming tail revealed at the other, approaching a feline seated on a rocky terrace highlighted by russet inclusions 2.6cm (1in) high; a white jade ring with two flattened sides formed by the russet skin, carved with a relief scene depicting a feline crouching on a rocky terrace beside a flowing stream, 2.5cm (1in) high; and a green jade ring with the upper register highlighted in light grey tone, carved in relief to the upper register with a sinuous dragon striding amongst clouds, approaching a feline perched on rockwork, inscribed beneath with two characters 'Ya Wan', 2.5cm (1in) high. (3).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 135. Three jade thumb rings, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic PeriodEstimate 3,000-5,000 GBP. Sold for £ 6,250 (€ 6,978). © Bonhams

Comprising a pale green and brown jade ring carved in the round in shallow relief with cajoling Buddhist lions in a pine-strewn landscape, 3cm (1 1/8in) high; a grey jade ring, the flattened side carved in shallow relief with a bearded rider carrying a large branch of blossoming prunus, 2.8cm (1 1/8in) high; and a pale green and russet jade ring, the inclusion skilfully incorporated in the design, one side gently flattened and carved in shallow relief with a monkey holding a peach, 2.6cm (1in) high (3).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 136. Five yellow and russet jade thumb rings, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic PeriodEstimate 3,000-5,000 GBP. Sold for £ 9,375 (€ 10,467). © Bonhams

Comprising a mottled and yellow jade ring carved in continuous relief with a farmer departing from the city gate and travelling across a mountainous landscape with gnarled trees, 3cm (1 1/8in) high; a yellow jade ring with a flattened relief highlighted with russet inclusions, carved with Shoulao holding a peach, mounted on a deer emitting scrolling clouds, beside a tree with a descending bat, 2.9cm (1 1/8in) high; a yellow and russet ring with a flattened side, carved with Shoulao and a boy attendant flanked by two gnarled pine trees, 3.3cm (1 1/4in) high; a yellow and russet ring with the flattened russet side carved with crouching feline in pursuit of the moon, 2.6cm (1in) high; and a yellow jade ring with the russet skin highlighting the flattened side 2.9cm (1 1/8in) high. (5).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 137. Three white jade thumb rings, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic Period. Estimate 3,000-5,000 GBP. Sold for £ 25,000 (€ 27,913). © Bonhams

All carved in shallow relief from a semi-translucent stone of pale even tone, the first with three rams grazing beneath a pine tree, the stone with cloudy inclusions, 2.5cm (7/8in) high; the second with a boy grooming a horse in a pine-strewn landscape, the stone with some white inclusions, 2.6cm (1in) high; the third with a mounted archer chasing a hare, 2.4cm (7/8in) high (3).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

Note: The third ring inscribed 'de lu tu' 得祿圖, an auspicious wish for 'gaining status', making the piece particularly suited as a present for an ambitious and promising official.

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Lot 138. Four white and russet jade thumb rings19th-early 20th centuryEstimate 4,000-6,000 GBP. Sold for £ 15,000 (€ 16,747). © Bonhams

Comprising a white jade ring with a flattened russet side carved with a sage in leisure, seated under a wutong tree, 2.9cm (1 1/8in) high; a white jade ring with a relief flattened side highlighted with russet inclusions, depicting a stag galloping on a rocky terrace under a gnarled tree, 2.6cm (1in) high; a ring with the russet skin forming the flattened side, carved beside with four lines of inscription forming a couplet, 2.8cm (1 1/8in) high; and a ring with a flattened russet side, carved in relief with a sage holding a horsetail whisk on a fenced terrace beside a pond, the other side with a bridge under a willow tree, separated by a reserve simulating the rocky cliff, 2.5cm (1in) high. (4).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 139. Three jade thumb rings, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic Period. Estimate 3,000-5,000 GBP. Sold for £ 13,750 (€ 15,352). © Bonhams

Comprising a pale green jade ring carved with four roundels enclosing characters reading 'Qianlong Nian Zhi', encircled by archaistic scrolls bordered by two geometric bands, 2.2cm (7/8in) high, and a white jade ring with minor russet inclusions, carved to one side with scholar's items with a descending bat, beside a stylised shou roundel and rockwork emerging from foaming waves, all reserved on a diaper ground, the other with a foliate panel enclosing a poem, 2.2cm (7/8in) high; a white jade ring with four foliate cartouches enclosing characters reading 'Yannian Yishou', reserved on a geometric ground, 2.3cm (7/8in) high. (3).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 140. Four white jade reticulated thumb ringsLate Qing DynastyEstimate 6,000-8,000 GBP. Sold for £ 47,500 (€ 53,035). © Bonhams

The first carved in relief with a sage and attendant standing on a rocky terrace beside a gnarled pine tree, in front of a tiled pavilion amidst a mountainous landscape reserved on a reticulated diaper ground, 2.6cm (1in) high; the second with a lady and a boy at leisure beside a wutong tree amongst a rocky landscape, with a stream of reticulated foaming waves emerging in between 2.5cm (1in) high; the third with four roundels enclosing characters 'Ruyi Jixiang', reserved on a reticulated geometric ground, 2.6cm (1in) high; the last white and mottled jade ring carved with four foliate cartouches enclosing Manchurian characters, reserved on a reticulated geometric ground bordered by two key-fret bands, 2.5cm (1in) high. (4).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 141. Four white jade thumb ringsLate Qing Dynasty-Republic PeriodEstimate 6,000-8,000 GBP. Sold for £ 18,750 (€ 20,934). © Bonhams

The first carved in relief with a qilin emitting clouds on a terrace beside a pine tree, 2.5cm (1in) high; the second carved with four roundels enclosing characters 'Ruyi Jixiang', reserved on a ground of scrolling tendrils, 2.5cm (1in) high; the third similarly carved with four roundels enclosing characters 'Heqing Haiyan', 2.4cm (1in) high; the fourth carved with a band of eight seal script characters, 2.4cm (1in) high. (4).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86. 

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Lot 142. Four white jade 'bats' thumb rings, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic PeriodEstimate 6,000-8,000 GBP. Sold for £ 18,750 (€ 20,934). © Bonhams

The first carved in relief to one side with two bats, the other with a leafy peach branch, 2.5cm, (1in) high; the second with a flattened relief highlighted with russet inclusions, depicting a bat with spreading wings, gliding amongst dense scrolling clouds, 2.4cm, (1in) high; the third carved with a relief band with two bats on a ground of scrolling clouds, between two key-fret bands to the edges, 2.4cm, (1in) high; the fourth ring with similar decorations, 2.1cm (7/8in) high. (4).

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

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Lot 143. A white jade Mughal-style 'flower and acanthus' thumb ring, Late Qing Dynasty-Republic PeriodEstimate 3,000-5,000 GBP. Sold for £ 3,750 (€ 4,186). © Bonhams

The attractive translucent stone of even pale tone, exquisitely carved in relief with two large flower heads borne on spreading acanthus leaves flanked by leafy trident branches, alternating with further flower heads below descending acanthus leaves emerging from the rims. 2.5cm (1in) high.

Provenance: the Graham Thewlis Collection of Chinese Thumb Rings, mostly acquired in Hong Kong between 1971 and 1985.

Published: an overview of the collection was published by G.Thewlis in 'Chinese Thumb Rings', Arts of Asia, May-June 1985, pp.80-86.

Bonhams. FINE CHINESE ART, London, 14 May 2015