A magnificent Imperial pale green jade archaistic vase, hu Qianlong four-character fang gu mark and of the period
IMPERIAL PALE GREEN JADE ARCHAISTIC VASE HU
QIANLONG 4 CHARACTERS Sold in Hong Kong for HK$ 19,160,000 Thursday 27 November 2014

Art Market Review

Issue 9, July - December 2014

Page 50

Formerly in the collection of the colourful ex MP Rodney Somerset de Chair, this archaistic jade hu vase is an exemplary imperial work of art. It represents the Qianlong Emperor's idea of archaism converted by the lapidary workshops into a magnificent and monumental jade vase imitating archaic bronze vessels of the late Spring and Autumn period (779-476 BC). The Qianlong Emperor proposed to 'restore ancient ways', referring to the view of ancient culture as having intrinsic qualities of sincerity, simplicity and happy exuberance. He did, however, grant the craftsmen a large degree of flexibility, allowing them to altar traditional design combinations and to introduce new themes. We can see this in the continuous relief borders enclosing fish, tortoises and ducks, and in the more stylised relief-carved mask loose-ring handles. The animals carry great significance. The tortoise, for example, is one of the four revered ancient animals of China, representing the creation of all beings and longevity. Fish symbolise an ideal secluded and peaceful life. Ducks represent peace, prosperity and fidelity. Taken together they could be seen as representing life in the water, in the air and on land.

Asaph Hyman
Director of Chinese Art

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