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Lot 5. An exceptionally rare white marble figure of a turtle, Shang dynasty (c. 1500-1050 BC). Length 3 in., 8 cm. Estimate: 10,000 - 15,000 USDLot sold: 6,300 USD. © Sothebys. 

Provenance: Collection of Dr Wou Kiuan (1910-1997).
Wou Lien-Pai Museum, coll. no. E.3.14.

Note: Shang dynasty marble carvings are extremely rare, much more so than  other ritual works of art and vessels created from bronze, jade, bone or ivory. Other recorded examples of Shang marble include a small group of animal carvings in the  collection of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taipei,  which were excavated from tomb 1500 at Xibeigang, Anyang, and a carving of a cicada recovered from the tomb of Fu Hao in 1976.

There are other surviving examples in museums, including a water buffalo, a fish and a bear in the Smithsonian Museum, but no other turtle appears to be recorded. Only a very small number of Shang marble figures has been recorded in private collections, including a marble buffalo in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Sedgwick, London, illustrated in the Catalogue of the  International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935, Royal Academy of Arts, London, cat. no. 268A, and a frog included in the collection of Richard Bull, sold in these rooms, 6th December 1983, lot 244.

Sotheby's. A Journey Through China's History. The Dr Wou Kiuan Collection Part 1, New York, 22 March 2022