Late Ming / early Qing dynasty Cast in the form of a mythical animal poised in recumbent position, the creature with the head of a dragon but a pair of horns and body of a deer, its head upturned from the elongated neck revealing a pointed beard. 5.6cm long.
The 'tianlu', also known as a qilin, is a legendary mythical beast considered a symbol of prosperity with the power to ward off evil. There is an old saying which translates as, "tianlu knows all good and evil in the mortal realm, like a spirit and travelling in ghastly speed between the lands, if one meets its acquaintance, one will be blessed with wealth, longevity, healthiness and prosperity".
Paperweights are used to hold down paper at the four edges, so as not to interfere with reading, calligraphy and painting. Weights first appeared during the Warring States period and became widely used in the Han dynasty. They are often found in the form of animals, and were originally for weighing down the four corners of floor-seating mattresses, before gradually becoming paperweights after the Han dynasty. A similar but larger 'tianlu' paperweight was sold in these rooms, 24 November 2012, lot 535. See also another comparable example in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, illustrated by Rose Kerr, Later Chinese Bronzes, London, 1990, p.101, no.87.
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