Mid Qing dynasty Intricately worked in the form of a recumbent ram resting elegantly on all fours with its head turned backward facing its two offsprings nestled by its side, the features and long tamed beard carefully rendered to reveal a peaceful expression below a pair of downward pointing ridged horns, the stone of celadon tone, wood stand carved with lingzhi and flowering prunus. 4.5cm high.
The ram is symbolic of virtues such as piety and patience. A group of three rams is commonly referred to as san yang, an auspicious motif that correlates with the sun and male decedents as they provide a rebus for san yang kei tai or more specifically, the wish for the New Year to bring a change of fortune. The masterfully rendered posture of the central ram echoes the still and powerful stone figures that line the Spirit Roads of Tang and Song tombs, yet the fluidity and fullness of the forms capture a sense of vitality and elegance.
Compare single figures of rams portrayed with their head raised in a related alert manner, such as the one in the B.S McElney collection, illustrated in Chinese Jade Carvings, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1983, no. 139. A later carving of three similarly positioned rams was sold in Sotheby's New York, 20th February, 1979, lot 186, and another was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 18 March 1991, lot 364.
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