A unique mother-of-pearl, soapstone and hardstone inlaid zitan brush palatte Jiajing, attributed to Zhou Zhu
Lot 308
A magnificent and extremely rare mother-of-pearl, soapstone and hardstone inlaid zitan brush palatte Jiajing, attributed to Zhou Zhu
Sold for HK$ 1,160,000 (US$ 149,656) inc. premium

Lot Details
A unique mother-of-pearl, soapstone and hardstone inlaid zitan brush palatte Jiajing, attributed to Zhou Zhu A unique mother-of-pearl, soapstone and hardstone inlaid zitan brush palatte Jiajing, attributed to Zhou Zhu
A magnificent and extremely rare mother-of-pearl, soapstone and hardstone inlaid zitan brush palatte
Jiajing, attributed to Zhou Zhu
Of rounded rectangular form standing on four angled feet at the corners, the main panel secured on a hinge on one side allowing ninety degrees of upright movement, featuring a Mongol warrior battling against a Buddhist lion, the brave figure striking a stance with right knee raised and arm stretched, wearing overflowing robes with long sleeves and chestpiece armor with sword sheathed at the waist, the distinctive muscular facial features with prominent moustache and beard framed by ringed ears, framed beneath a traditional headwear extending two long flowing tassels; the ferocious mythical beast with curled mane and trifurcated tail leaping forth and landing on frontal paws with its head turned left, all admist a scene of rockwork and wispy clouds, masterfully inlaid with mother-of-pearl, soapstone, jade, pearl, various hardstones and semi-precious stones.
10.5cm high.

Footnotes

  • Provenance 來源:
    Guan Zuzhang collection

    Guan Zuzhang (1894-1966), born in Guangxi province, studied and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in America, before returning to the Republic of China, and was appointed as the Chief Engineer of the Ministry of Transportation. Guan's collections was renowned for its diversity, including bronze mirrors, classical books and high quality scholar's objects such as the current lot.

    Inlaid pieces of this quality were reserved for the highest ranking officials and members of the Imperial court. The piece is used similarly to an inkstone, but on a more personal basis with red ink, which would have been used to mark corrections and show approval on official documents. The user would have flipped the piece to open it, applied powdered red ink on the centre, and then water from a water dropper to acheive the desired ink density before using.

    The current lot is attributed to the renowned Ming dynasty master carver and artist Zhou Zhu, famous for his inlaid work on zitan and huanghuali. His works are well-defined with rounded edges and elaborate inlaid techniques, forming intricate and complex imagery with depth and sophistication.

    Zhou Zhu lived during the Ming dynasty Jiajing period in the Jiangsu region, and is attributed for the creation of the inlaid technique. This technique, also known as Zhouzhi or 'Zhou's work', appears to have been developed in the late sixteenth century with textual reference dating to 1594, as explained by Craig Clunas in, Chinese Furniture, London, 1988, p.94. Works by Zhou Zhu were highly prizes by the Qing court. For an example from the Qing court collection, preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, see Bamboo, Wood, Ivory and Rhinoceros Horn Carvings. The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2002, pp.283-286, nos.228-231.

    The figure and the mythical beast depicted in the current lot is carved with sturdy pieces of inlaid hardstone, yet is still able to highlight the intricately depicted facial features. For example, the Buddhist lion and the sleeves of the Mongol are both worked from large pieces of mother-of-pearl and soapstones, yet the figure's face and ornaments are formed from many smaller stones which would have required minute attention to detail, equally demonstrating Zhou's ability to combine different levels of artistic technique and execution.

    The subject matter of Yuan dynasty Imperial Mongol hunting scenes was popular during the mid to late Ming dynasty, which was also the favoured choice of subject by Zhou Zhu. The imagery of Mongols is sufficiently suggestive at a comfortable level on the topic of pervasive invasion and rule of the Northerners, but enough to excite a small amount of nostalgia on their famed hunting excursions. The Mongols highly regarded their organised and extravagant hunting trips, which have been recorded in Yuan court paintings by masters such as Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322).

    For a comparable example of a round lacquer ink palette, see Wang Shixiang, Ancient Chinese Lacquer, Beijing, 1987, no.57. The mentioned example has a scene of a Mongol warrior and a Buddhist lion on one side, similar to the current lot. The lacquer ink palette was originally from the Qing court collection, and later removed from the Palace by one of the Imperial concubines and thence by direct descent.

    For a zitan-inlaid box and cover with inlaid hardstones attributed to Zhou Zhu, see Sydney L. Moss Ltd., Escape from the Dusty World. Chinese Paintings and Literati Works of Art, London, 1999, p.229, no.62. Compare also an inlaid zitan box and cover attributed to Zhou Zhu from the Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 4 April 2012, lot 116.

    明嘉靖 紫檀嵌百寶胡人戲獅筆舔
    (傳)周柱製

    筆舔呈長方盒狀,紫檀質地,盒蓋主要以螺鈿、彩石、瑪瑙、珍珠、寶石等珍貴材料鑲嵌出胡人戲獅圖,胡人衣袖長揮,一腳提起,少獅彎腰對望,上有雲霧,下有小石,構圖嚴謹。筆舔是一種用作舔筆的文房用品,使筆蘸之墨色均勻,每一筆之濃淡一致,由於此筆舔以紫檀為材,顏色尚深,相信是專本用作朱砂或其他彩色顏料之用,筆舔呈盒狀,推想是為方便攜帶,精美妙絕。

    本筆舔為關祖章舊藏,關祖章(1894-1966),廣西人,於美國倫斯勒工藝學校畢業後,任民國政府之交通部工程師,富收藏,以收銅鏡及古書為多,亦藏文房清玩為趣。

    嵌百寶器當中要求之工藝複雜,金屬需冶鑄,瑪瑙、玉石等需運用金剛砂及水碾磨,木、牙、竹之類則要細刻,漆需調色配料,是一件講求綜合工藝的藝術品,明清宮廷之器具及工匠可配合有關之需要。明代百寶嵌以花鳥為主,製蓋盒為多,清初承繼此技術,加添更多內容,如獅戲等故事內容豐富之題材,也套用到不同的器物上。

    在中國雕刻藝術史中,明代雕刻家周柱(活躍於嘉靖年間江蘇一帶)首創百寶嵌,在木或漆上細嵌不同彩石珍寶,構成一幅精緻的圖畫。對周柱之工藝,早在明代高濂1591年著的《遵生八箋》中便有提及,相信是始創於十六世紀末,又稱「周製」,詳細說明可見Craig Clunas,《Chinese Furniture》,倫敦,1988,頁94。周製百寶嵌器聞名於世,宮中也有所聞及追求,在清官舊藏中,便多見有紫檀百寶嵌器,見李久芳主編,《故宮博物院藏文物珍品全集.竹木牙雕刻》,頁283-286,編號228-231。此四件紫檀百寶嵌器皆以胡人之活動為內容,尤其編號228之紫檀百寶三獅進寶圖盒,上描繪了胡人及獅子,與本筆舔紋飾相同,根據同書說明,獅子被視為避邪護福的瑞獸,且與"師"諧音,太師、少師都是古代官職,圖紋寓意「官祿相傳」,見同書頁283之說明。加上本筆舔顏色尚深,很有可能是宮中盛放朱砂批註之用。

    與本筆舔相似構圖的漆圓盒例子,可參見王世襄編,《中國古代漆器》,北京,1987,圖版57。該漆器一面牡丹山石圖,一面胡人戲獅圖,胡人和少獅之動態與本筆舔極為相似,唯左右相反而已。此漆器據稱由沙灘老虎洞宅,即清珍妃家出售,有可能此漆器與本拍品是出自一個作坊。

    另一件可比較的紫檀嵌百寶胡人狩獵圖蓋盒,可參見Sydney L. Moss Ltd.,《Escape from the Dusty World. Chinese Paintings and Literati Works of Art》,倫敦,1999,頁229,編號62,該盒之胡人衣飾及工藝與本筆舔同近,內更有「大明」年款。
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first HKD800,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from HKD800,001 to HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over HKD1,000,000 of the Hammer Price.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Contacts
  1. John Chong
    Specialist - Chinese Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work +852 3607 0013
  2. Xibo Wang
    Specialist - Chinese Works of Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    Suite 2001, One Pacific Place
    Hong Kong
    Work +852 3607 0010
Similar Items