More than a Game / A RARE LARGE 'HUNDRED BOYS' KESI PANEL Jiajing/Wanli
Sold for HK$1,389,000 inc. premium
A RARE LARGE 'HUNDRED BOYS' KESI PANEL
Exquisitely woven in polychrome silk, gold-wrapped thread and peacock feather, depicting eighty-nine boys in small groups engaging in a variety of activities in a garden setting filled with rocks, trees, pavilion, bridge, pond, deer and crane, including playing qin, playing chess, performing music as an ensemble, cricket fighting, kite flying, rowing, fishing, drama playing, reading, wrestling, under a top section depicted with a bright sun overhead in the centre, and another boy riding a qilin and holding a sheng and a twig of osmanthus over clouds. 173cm (68 1/8in) x 154cm (60 5/8in).
The 'hundred boys' refers to the story of King Wen, the father of the founder of the Zhou dynasty King Wu, representing the wish for many sons. In folklore, King Wen of Zhou had ninety-nine sons and adopted one more, which made one hundred. It remains unknown when this story emerged, however, the earliest visual art in this theme to be believed is a painting on silk mounted as a rounded fan, 12th-13th century, in the Cleveland Museum of Art, which is illustrated and discussed by X.F.Wang in The Wedding of Princess: One Hundred Children at Play and the Pictures of Child in Southern Song Dynasty , in Art Observation, November and December 2018, pp.108-114, 108-112. The games and arrangement of boys' groups on this panel demonstrate a consistency within this theme, when compared with examples during the Ming dynasty as can be seen in other media such as porcelain and lacquer.
Compare with a closely related kesi 'hundred boys' panel, Ming dynasty, in the Beijing Art Museum, illustrated in Gems of Beijing: Cultural Relics Series, Textiles, Beijing, 2001, pl.155. Compare also with a kesi panel, Ming dynasty, in the collection of Stephen McGuinness, exhibited and illustrated in Chinese Textile Masterpieces. Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Plum Blossoms (Intl) Ltd, Hong Kong, 1988, no.13. See also a similar kesi 'hundred boys' panel, Ming dynasty, which was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 April 2015, lot 3117.
北京藝術博物館藏一件緙絲百子圖與本件極似，孩童數目八十九，遊戲項目基本相同，惟童子服飾有些許出入，本件掛幔之童子有數人著八卦道服，故為嘉靖朝作品可能性較大，北京藝術館所藏百子圖舘方定為清初，而揚之水認為是明代作品，見揚之水撰，《從孩兒詩到百子圖》，北京，2014年，卷五，頁38。另可參考一件類似緙絲百子圖，著錄於《 Chinese Textile Masterpieces. Song, Yuan & Ming Dynasties》，香港，1988年，編號13。香港蘇富比曾售出一件晚明緙絲百子圖，畫面與本件剛好左右相反，可資參考，2015年4月6日，拍品編號3117。