A Superb Greenish-White Jade Octagonal 'Marriage' Bowl

Bonhams is delighted to offer a superb greenish-white jade octagonal 'marriage' bowl, Qianlong, Lot 160 (estimate £80,000 – 120,000) for sale among many jades from distinguished private collections, on 16 May 2019 in London, New Bond Street.

This exceptionally lustrous and superbly carved jade bowl epitomises the highly skilled craftsmanship achieved at the height of the Qing dynasty, during the celebrated reign of the Qianlong emperor. Marriage bowls, sometimes referred to as water basins or brush washers, were popular vessels during the Qing period and were often decorated with auspicious designs that conveyed felicitous wishes upon the owners.

This superb 'marriage' bowl may have been commissioned to mark an Imperial birthday. Lingzhi fungi are associated with longevity as well as with the virtues of a good ruler as classical texts, such as the Shangshu Dazhuan (尚書大傳) and the Baihu Tong Delun (白虎通德論), compiled during the Han dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) described the growth of lingzhi as a powerful indicator of good government. In addition, the archaistic taotie masks carved in shallow relief around the body of the present bowl, ubiquitous designs found on bronze ritual vessels of the Shang and Zhou dynasties (ca. 1600 BC - 314 BC), recall the Qianlong emperor's fascination with antiquity and archaism. Proposing to 'restore ancient ways', referring to the view of ancient culture as having intrinsic qualities of sincerity, simplicity and happy exuberance, the emperor instructed the court to collect drawings of antiquities, such as the Xi Qing Gu Jian (Catalogue of Xiqing Antiquities), which provided the Imperial craftsmen with a primary source of inspiration.


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