Lot 3328. A Carved Bamboo Figure of Liu Hai, Late Ming Dynasty. H 8.2cm. Sold for HKD 144,000 (Estimate HKD 120,000 - 180,000). © Poly Auction Hong Kong Limited 2022
Provenance: 1. Collection of Mr. Van Houtte, Brussels, Belgium, 1992
2. Collection of the Duchamp family, Paris, France
Note: This ornament is skillfully carved from rounded bamboo roots, the overall colour of which is reddish-brown, and depicts Liu Hai leaping on a golden toad. The golden toad has a plump, rounded body and is crouched on three legs. Liu Hai is dressed in a half-shouldered meditation garment, his sash holding the wind in his face, his hands clasping the toad in a joyful and simple manner. Although small, this is a lively and vibrant piece, with an infectiously beautiful form and spirit.
"Liu Hai plays with a golden toad, a symbol of prosperity, and the allusion is to the Taoist Book of Common Words. One day, he met a man who placed ten eggs on a coin. When he saw Liu, he was shocked and told him that being in a place of glory and happiness was more dangerous than this. The golden toad is said to be able to vomit money, and there is a legend that Liu Hai has been playing with the golden toad for a thousand years.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Poly Auction Hong Kong. The Duchange Family Collection of Important Chinese Art II, Hong Kong, 2 December 2021