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Lot 117. A gilt-bronze 'bird' mask, Northern Wei dynasty (386-535); 10.5 by 9.8 cm. Lot sold: 352,800 HKD (Estimate: 100,000 - 150,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022

dominated by a bird mask with alert eyes of almond shape above a triple-beak and a toothed mouth, the curled eyebrows detailed with hatching and stippling, all crowned by a symmetrical design in openwork with horned felines and hatted figures, wood stand and Japanese wood box.

Provenance: Eskenazi Ltd, London, 1986.
P.C. Lu & Sons, Ltd, Hong Kong, 5th January 1986.

Literature: Jessica Rawson and Emma C. Bunker, Ancient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, Hong Kong, 1990, cat. no. 119.

ExhibitedAncient Chinese and Ordos Bronzes, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1990.
British Museum, London, on loan, 1992-2015.

NoteA similar reticulated bronze mask and its matching ring handle, each centred with a figure flanked by a pair of dragons, were unearthed in Guyuan, Ningxia, and published in 'Ningxia Guyuan Beiwei mu qingli jianbao [A brief archaeological report of a Northern Wei tomb in Guyuan, Ningxia]', Wenwu / Cultural Relics, 1984, no. 6, pp. 46-50, figs 17 and 19. See also another example with a trefoil-crowned zoomorphic mask surmounted by a figure and four animals arranged in a symmetrical design, from the collection of C.L. Rutherston, illustrated in Walter Perceval Yetts, Chinese Bronzes, London, 1925, pl. 9C. A pair of gilt bronze mask and ring handles, formerly in the collections of Walter Hochstadter and Barry L. MacLean, was sold twice in our New York rooms, 20th March 2002, lot 24, and again, 23rd March 2022, lot 248.

Sotheby's. HOTUNG  The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung: Part 1, Hong Kong, 9 October 2022