A very rare pale green jade 'ram and boy' group 18th century (3)

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Lot 146
A very rare pale green jade 'ram and boy' group
18th century

Sold for HK$ 940,000 (US$ 119,796) inc. premium
A very rare pale green jade 'ram and boy' group
18th century
The smoothly-polished stone superbly carved in the round as a recumbent ram with its head slightly turned to the right, a boy leaning on the ram and holding a rope tied to the ram's head, the ridged horns delicately terminating at the back over finely-hollowed ears, the legs tucked underneath the powerful body accentuated by the smoothly-ridged spine, the stone of an even pale green stone, with some russet to the left horn, wood stand, box. 16cm (6 1/4in) wide (3).

Footnotes

  • 十八世紀 青玉雕童子牧羊擺件

    The ram is a popular motif in Chinese jade carving, not only because its pronunciation sounds close to the pronunciation of the word xiang, 'auspicious', but also as a symbol of filial piety, patience and kindness. A jade group of ram and boy is very rare, compare a jade group of a boy riding a ram, Qianlong period, in the Guimet Museum, Paris, (acc.no.MG95), published in Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco, Paris, 2016, cat.127.

    Despite the rarity of the theme in jade during the Qing dynasty, the ram and boy group may have its origins in a legend from 2nd century Gandhara.Taizi runying benqijing (Sutra on the Life of the Prince in Accordance with Good Omens), an early Buddhist sutra, introduced into China during the Three Kingdoms Period (220–280 AD), described that 'when he was seven-years old, Shakyamuni rode a ram to visit his teacher and asked for books to study.' This story may correspond to the motif of a boy riding a ram, which appears to have been popular during the 3rd and 4th centuries. Compare with an agate group of boy and ram, unearthed from a tomb dated to the Three Kingdoms Period, and see more discussion on the connection of the group and Buddhist classics, W.Zhu, Qiyang tongzi: jiekai caowei meishu beihou de silu mima (Boy Riding a Ram: A Key to Understand the Art of Kingdom of Wei through Silkroad) in the Journal of Nanjing Arts Institute (Fine Arts & Design), Nanjing, 2018, vol.1, pp.49-55.

    Boy and buffalo groups are seen more often as Qing dynasty jade carvings; see for example a pale green jade box and buffalo group, Qing dynasty, in the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in the Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum, Jade 9 Qing Dynasty, 2011, Beijing, p.145, no.135. Compare also with a pale green jade 'water-buffalo and boy' group, Qianlong, which was sold at Bonhams Hong Kong, 28 May 2019, lot 41.

    玉質白中閃青,圓雕臥羊,四肢踡地,雙角長而後伏,頭微右側,背上雕一總角童子,右手牽繩,左手撫羊首,作拖曳狀,童子身著短打,表情調皮,羊肚滾圓,羊尾呈桃形,雕工生動靈巧,玉質厚潤。

    羊形玉雕十分常見,因「羊」「祥」諧音,有因羊代表溫和及孝順等品質。然而童子和羊的組合在明清十分少見,類似的玉雕可比較巴黎吉美美術館藏一件清乾隆童子騎羊的擺件,館藏編號 MG95,見《Jade: From Emperors to Art Deco》,巴黎,2016年,圖127。此一組合在清代雖不見流行,但是在三國時期卻較為常見,或與佛教東傳有關。三國時期月氏人支謙翻譯的《太子瑞應本起經》有記載:「(釋迦)及至七歲,而索學書,乘羊車詣師門。」童子乘羊車的形象在雕刻中經常以童子騎羊來表現。2015年洛陽一曹魏時期墓葬出土一件琥珀雕童子騎羊可資比較,此雕件及相關討論見朱滸,《曹魏美術的新視野—西朱村大墓出土琥珀童子騎羊像的意義探討》載於《南京藝術學院學報:美術與設計》,2018年,第1期,頁49-55。

    清代玉雕中童子牧牛的組合較為常見,本件組合形態多與之類似。可比較北京故宮博物院藏一件清代青玉童子牧牛擺件,見《故宮博物院藏品大系玉器篇》,北京,2011年,卷9,編號135,頁145。亦可參見香港邦瀚斯2019年5月28日售出一件清乾隆青白玉雕童子牧牛擺件,拍品編號41。
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A very rare pale green jade 'ram and boy' group 18th century (3)
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