A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty

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Lot 5
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear
Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty

HK$ 400,000 - 600,000
US$ 51,000 - 77,000
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear
Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
Masterfully carved as a recumbent bear with the forelegs outstretched and its right hind leg raised scratching its neck, the head slightly tilted to the right and portrayed staring intensely through the bulging eyes below its curling ears with a well-defined pronounced snout and open mouth baring its fangs, the edges of the head raised with delicately incised lines delineating the fur, the powerful body accentuated with a protruding spine, rounded haunches and clawed feet, the pale green stone with russet patches on the face.
6.3cm (2 1/2in) long.

Footnotes

  • 明末清初 白玉帶沁雕熊擺件

    Provenance:
    Hugh Moss collection
    Sotheby's Hong Kong, Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, Scholarly Art II, 4 April 2012, lot 117
    Marchant, London

    Exhibited, published and illustrated:
    Marchant, 90th Anniversary Exhibition: Ninety Jades for 90 Years, London, 2015, no.48

    來源:
    莫仕撝舊藏
    香港蘇富比,《水松石山房藏珍玩專場》,2012年4月4日,拍品編號117
    倫敦Marchant

    展覽、出版及著錄:
    Marchant,《玉器九十,90週年特展》,倫敦,2015年,編號48

    The playful posture of the present jade bear with its hind leg raised to scratch its ear is inspired from the Han dynasty prototypes: one such example from the Arthur M. Sackler collection, in the The Freer Gallery of Art, is illustrated by T. Lawton et al., Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, 1987, no.68; another example of a Han dynasty style jade bear with a similar posture in the British Museum, London, is illustrated by J.Rawson in Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995, p.350, fig.1.

    The depiction of jade bears continued after the Han dynasty. However, later carvings would seem to have a stronger sense of playfulness earlier characteristics of movement. See also a related white and russet jade bear, Western Han dynasty, from the Durwin Tang collection, sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 27 November 2018, lot 108.

    An example of a similarly postured pale green jade lion, Tang dynasty or earlier, also with its hind leg scratching its ear from the Durwin Tang collection, was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 27 November 2018, lot 105. See also a similar example illustrated by Spink Ltd., Chinese Jade, 1998, p.11, no.6.

    The bear has been a popular totemic emblem in China since ancient times. China's foundation myths hold that the legendary Yellow emperor, or Huang Di, early on lived with his tribe in the northwest, presumably in modern Shanxi Province, but then later migrated to Zhuolu, in present-day Hebei Province, where he became a farmer and tamed six different types of ferocious beasts, including the bear, or xiong, with which the Yellow emperor ever since has been linked.

    From the Han dynasty (206 BC–AD 220) onwards, and probably even much earlier, bears have also been linked with military prowess, shamanism, and immortality. Furthermore, the words for 'bear' and 'virility' are exact homonyms, pronounced xiong.

    青白玉質,圓雕臥熊,熊張口,怒目,腮毛連耳後伏,前肢撲地,趾爪犀利,背脊起棱線,右後爪撓腮,左腿趺坐於腹下,四肢脛毛細碎以陰線刻之。頭部略染紅沁。

    漢代熊類飾件十分流行,華盛頓弗瑞爾亞瑟賽克勒美術館藏一件西漢晚期褐斑灰白玉熊,形態和本件拍品極似,見T. Lawton等著,《Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery》,華盛頓,1987,編號68。大英博物館亦藏有一件類似形態的漢代褐斑灰白玉熊,見J. Rawson,《Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing》,倫敦,1995年,頁350,圖1。

    肖熊藝術品雖在後期亦有出現,但對其張力及動感的表現與後期相對寫實世俗風格有所不同。香港天珍堂藏一件西漢白玉雕熊,由香港邦瀚斯售出,2018年11月27日,拍品編號108。

    香港天珍堂舊藏一件唐代或更早青白玉雕搔耳獅,其造型與本品類似,後售於香港邦瀚斯,2018年11月27日,拍品編號105。另見斯賓克著錄一例,《Chinese Jades》,1998年,頁11,編號6。

    熊在中國古代典籍中出現的時間和中國文字一樣久遠。黃帝故國號即為「有熊」,《史記·五帝本紀》載:「軒轅乃修德振兵,治五氣,藝五種,撫萬民,度四方,教熊羆貔貅貙虎,以與炎帝戰於阪泉之野。三戰然後得其志。」或可見遠至上古,中原居民便已馴化熊羆。至於漢代,熊則有警示君王之意,《漢書·五行志中之上》載:「昭帝時,昌邑王賀聞人聲曰『熊』,視而見大熊。左右莫見,以問郎中令龔遂,遂曰:『熊,山野之獸,而來入宮室,王獨見之,此天戒大王,恐宮室將空,危亡象也。』賀不改寤,後卒失國。」昌邑王賀即海昏侯劉賀,在位二十七天為霍光所廢。

    明代中晚期之後,市民經濟長足發展,士人商賈好古、藏古,繼而出現仿古、偽古的風潮。明末顧起元(1565-1628)曾寫道:「人輕真今而重偽古,欲售偽者必假真,為今愈工則為古愈偽矣。」可見明末時風。當時仿古玉作除了形狀以古器為粉本,沁色務必也仿之,常選器面有縫隙或有璺處著色,以模仿古器沁色。此件玉熊之形極有可能取自前兩例漢代玉熊的式樣,所染皮色意在仿古沁,是為明末清初仿古玉器之代表。
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A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
A very rare white and russet jade carving of a bear Late Ming/early Qing Dynasty
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