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Lot 128. A white and russet jade 'bird' pebble, Song - Ming dynasty (960-1644); 6.3 cm. Lot sold: 378,000 HKD (Estimate: 300,000 - 500,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022

portrayed with its head turned backwards and two-clawed feet tucked underneath its body, depicted with a hooked beak and a bifurcated tail issuing from the mouth of another small animal, its stylised wings detailed with incised plumage and archaistic scrolls, pierced with an aperture.

Provenance: Collection of Robert H. Ellsworth.
Eastern Pacific Co. (Hei Hung-Lu), Hong Kong, 3rd January 1986.

Literature: James C.Y. Watt, Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, New York, 1980, cat. no. 78.
Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong, 1996, cat. no. 103.

Exhibited: Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, The Asia Society, New York, 1980.
Chinese Jade Animals, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996.

NoteCarved from an irregular pebble as a charming bird with a gently turned head and tucked wings, complemented by archaistic scroll-patterned plumage, the present figure encapsulates the skills and imagination of Song dynasty jade artisans. Such representations of recumbent birds allowed the craftsmen to make full use of the contours of the jade pebbles to create whimsical forms with minimal waste. James C.Y. Watt suggests that the use of archaistic patterns on naturalistic animals, as seen on the present pebble, probably began from the Tang and continued to the end of the Ming dynasty with only minor stylistic modifications (op.cit., p. 94).

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