A rare rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th/18th century
Lot 214Y
An extremely rare inscribed rhinoceros horn libation cup Signed Zhi Sheng, Kangxi
£30,000 - 50,000
US$ 49,000 - 82,000

Lot Details
A rare rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th/18th century
Another Owner
An extremely rare inscribed rhinoceros horn libation cup
Signed Zhi Sheng, Kangxi
The flaring cup superbly carved in relief with two ladies and their attendants seated by a pagoda listening to musicians playing various musical instruments, the reverse with two sages, one holding a lingzhi fungus spray, all amidst pine and wutong trees on rocky outcrops framed by a stream below and cloud scrolls above, the handle carved as a gnarled pine tree with the needles reaching into the interior of the cup, signed Zhisheng, 直生, on the base. 13.5cm (5 5/16in) wide.

Footnotes

  • 清康熙 犀角雕山水人物杯 「直生」篆書款

    The United Kingdom Government has recently imposed an almost complete prohibition on granting a license to permit the export of worked antique rhinoceros horn from the UK to any destination outside the European Union. Please check with the department for further details.

    The present rhinoceros horn libation cup has been carved by one of the finest and best known carvers: You Kan, from Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. You Kan excelled in rhinoceros horn, ivory, jade and bamboo carvings. He is thought to be the rhinoceros horn carver by the name of You Xibei, who was summoned by the Kangxi Emperor to work in the Imperial workshops. His designation or hao is Zhi Sheng, 直生, as carved at the base of the present lot. He signed his cups in several different ways, sometimes using clerical script but often two low relief seals carved in relief; a circular one with his adopted name, Zhisheng, and a square one with his given name.

    Four rhinoceros horn libation cups by this master, previously in the Dr Ip Yee collection, are now in the Palace Museum, Beijing. Other examples in public collections include those in the Shanghai Museum, the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin; see J.Chapman, The Art of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, London, 1999, p.139.

    The libation cup is exquisite in the craftsmanship of its carving and fine attention to minute detail and is rare in its subject matter of musicians.

    Compare a rhinoceros horn lotus-shaped water dropper, signed Zhisheng, attributed to the 17th century, from the Songzhutang Collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1716.
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