A tianhuang 'landscape' soapstone carving Qianlong incised six-character mark and of the period
Lot 565
A tianhuang 'landscape' soapstone carving Qianlong incised six-character mark and of the period
Sold for HK$ 437,500 (US$ 56,447) inc. premium
Lot Details
Scholar's objects from private collections (lots 560-566)
A tianhuang 'landscape' soapstone carving
Qianlong incised six-character mark and of the period
The bright and deep orange-coloured stone finely worked in detail, one side intricately carved with a wondrous scene of a rocky landscape scene, with a tower in the distance, a path leading downwards to another small four-post pavilion, a fisherman steering a sampan on raging waves at the bottom, all encapsulated within misty clouds cleverly represented by natural inclusions, the reverse with a twelve-character inscription followed by two incised seal marks, together with another incised six-character seal mark.
6.2cm high. (106g)

Footnotes

  • 清乾隆 田黃雕薄意人物山水擺件
    「智仁雅樂,山水同深。乾隆御製」
    「乾清宮鑑藏寶」篆文方印、「乾」篆文方印、「隆」篆文方印

    The twelve-character inscription is in lishu. The first eight 'zhi ren ya le shan shui tong shen' are associated with Confucian thought-'zhi zhe le shui, ren zhe le shan'-found in Yong Ye, chapter 6 of the Analects. A possible translation is 'The wise find pleasure in water; the virtuous find pleasure in mountains'. In Confucianism, nature and morality are deeply intertwined. The free and flexible nature of water is a model for intelligence whilst the unwavering, staunch qualities of the mountain are the ideal for benevolence. The remaining characters read 'qian long yu zhi', meaning 'Made for the Qianlong Emperor', followed by seal marks 'qian' and 'long' in zhuanshu.

    Above the inscription is an Imperial Qianlong collector seal mark 'Qian Qing Gong Jian Cang Bao', also in zhuanshu.

    This lot is a fine example of 'boyi', a unique shallow-relief technique that exists in soapstone carving marked by elegant composition, precise carving and connection to traditional Chinese painting. The subtle, naturalistic rendering on this precious and carefully selected stone masterfully combine calligraphy, seal carving and painting into one.

    The term 'tianhuang' is used to describe a specific type of soapstone which was naturally crystallised from the 'gaoshang' stone found in Fuzhou. The stone is able to transmute under various of conditions that involve different levels of humidity and terrestrial heat to give a nature of rich yet translucent tone of yellow to the stone. The raw material is considered very precious hence the 'king of stones', and is often used for carving religious figures due to its rareness.

    Traditionally, Chinese scholars tend to consider poets, calligraphies, paintings, seals as essential elements for righteous taste of connoisseurship. Such ideology was apparently adopted by the Emperor Qianlong who is also known as a great connoisseur of paintings and works of art. The finely carved landscape and the imperially impressed seal that reads 'treasured collection of the Palace of Heavenly Purity' on current example demonstrate the ideal combination of such.

    田黃色橙黃,光嫩圓滑,溫潤可愛。山形擺件正面雕薄意山水,山石上建亭台樓閣,婆娑樹影,前景洶湧激流中有漁船一隻,漁人用力往前撐,描寫細膩,擺件其餘面向皆雕以山 石肌理,具體表現山石形態。匠家巧妙地利用田黃石本身的綹紋理作山石輪廓,又安排田黃石中的蘿蔔紋於亭台樓閣之上方,似是天空雲霄之意,結構緊密,是妙用珍貴 材料、匠家心思及巧手妙工之作。背面雕有「乾清宮鑑藏寶」篆文方印,並刻以隸書「智仁雅樂,山水同深。乾隆御製」及「乾」篆文方印、「隆」篆文方印,字體 秀麗高雅,題字明顯取材自儒家學說中「仁者樂山,知者樂水」之意。

    「仁者樂山,知(同智)者樂水」為孔子儒家經典論述,見於《論語 • 雍也》第六篇。孔子視人和自然為一體,以山和水的特質為人的楷模。用山的包容萬物和別無所求,象徵仁德之人的品德;用水柔和卻無所不達的特性,表現智者的品格。

    田黃乃壽山石的一個品類,是福州高山石滾入水田中,經泥沙、水分、地熱的長時間作用下形成的,色潤澤光滑,質地柔潤易攻,因形成機會難得,多見作印章及羅漢像之用,自古以來它也是皇帝以及文人所追求的,有「石帝」之美譽,也有「一两田黄一两金」之說。

    文房雅玩中,山子不但只是一件擺設,更能讓觀者陶冶性情,賞心閱目,它更有如中國山水畫,可有「卧遊山水」之功能,集合詩、書、畫、印,這一概念也存在於皇帝之中,如有名清乾隆53年(1788)製 "大禹治水圖玉山"中,除了刻有山水及詩句外,更刻有「古稀天子」白文圓印,此印常見於書畫之中。正如本田黃山子,上有「乾清宮鑑藏寶」篆文方印,此印同為乾隆皇帝用於書畫上之印章,唯田黃石稀少珍貴,難有大形山子之作,但在形式上仍保持同一作風。
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