A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi 18th/19th century
Lot 13*
A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi
18th/19th century
Sold for £145,250 (US$ 227,593) inc. premium

Lot Details
A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi 18th/19th century A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi 18th/19th century A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi 18th/19th century
A fine and rare white jade sceptre, ruyi
18th/19th century
The white stone of outstanding purity and lustre, elegantly shaped as a gently curving ruyi, the decorative lobed panels finely carved with scenes of the Immortals celebrating the birthday of Xiwangmu, the top panel with the Queen Mother of the West descending on a flying phoenix holding a peach, Shoulao holding up another peach in both hands on a stepped terrace, Lu Dongbin and Quan Zhongli in conversation above Zhang Guolao, the middle panel with Lan Caihe carrying a basket of flowers and following Cao Guojin along a path above Han Xiangzi with his flute, the bottom panel with Li Tieguai holding aloft a double gourd pouring the elixir of immortality and supported on his crutch, and He Xiangu with a magical lotus, the reverse of the sceptre smoothly polished with a delicately bevelled edge.
42.8cm (16 7/8in) long

Footnotes

  • 十八/十九世紀 白玉雕群仙祝壽圖如意

    The superb shaping and carving of the present ruyi fully exploits the superior quality of the white jade, allowing the natural translucence to be appreciated in the smooth curving lines of the body contrasting with the delicate shallow relief-carved decoration in the cartouches.

    Ruyi literally translates 'as you wish' and the ruyi was a very popular gift during the reign of Qianlong, symbolising the desire that the recipient's wishes come true. The present lot is particularly remarkable for its carving of the Eight Daoist Immortals together with the God of longevity, Shoulao, and the Queen Mother of the West, Xiwangmu. The Immortals gather on stepped terraces amongst the clouds, a fantastical landscape which probably represents the Turquoise Pond of the Kunlun Mountains as a vision of paradise, to greet Xiwangmu descending on a phoenix.

    This happy gathering of deities represents the birthday of Xiwangmu, and this ruyi therefore would have been a very appropriate gift to celebrate an Imperial birthday. A similar example of a white jade ruyi with a design of Immortals celebrating a birthday, in the Palace Museum and dated to the Qing Dynasty, is illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum: Jade 8, Beijing, 2011, pl.74; see also a related example in the National Palace Museum, illustrated in Masterpieces of Chinese Ju-i Scepters in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1976, pl.2.

    Other works of art of a similarly Imperial quality also represent this birthday scene: see for example, the superb kesi silk tapestry dating to the Qianlong period in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated by S.Little, ed., Taoism and the Arts of China, Chicago, 2000, Catalogue no.118.
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