Lot 2897. A finely carved and inscribed bamboo ‘Two ladies’ brush pot, Early Qing dynasty, 17th century; 5 7/8 in. (15 cm.) high. Estimate HKD 250,000 - HKD 300,000. Price realised HKD 325,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
The exterior is carved with a reduced background to reserve a scene in relief of two ladies in discussion, each dressed in a voluminous robe and their hair dressed in high chignons, one reclining on a day-bed further detailed with neatly piled manuscripts beside lotus flowers placed inside an archaistic gu-form vase, her companion seated to one side, pointing with one finger to an open book held by the other hand, the reverse with a short inscription in running script.
Provenance: Hugh Moss, 1970s
Fine Chinese Bamboo Carvings from the Personal Collection of Mr and Mrs Gerard Hawthorn, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3 December 2008, lot 2332.
Note: From the poetic inscription the two figures depicted can be identified as the two legendary beauties of the Han dynasty. Known as Da Qiao and Xiao Qiao. They were the daughters of Qiao Xuan, and were immortalised in the classical novel, Sanguo Yanyi, ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ as their respective planned marriages were one of the factors that influenced Cao Cao to begin his first southern campaign which culminated in the spectacular battle of the Red Cliffs.
There are two comparable examples carved with this subject-matter of two ladies seated on a day-bed, the first inscribed with the name of Wu Zhifan is illustrated by Wang Shixiang, Zhuke Jianshang, Taiwan, 1996, no. 14; the other is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, illustrated by C. Clunas, Chinese Carving, London, 1996, p. 48, fig. 46.
Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Hong Kong, 9 July 2020