A jade lion with turning head

明晚期或清早起,十七世紀   回首獅

The lion is skilfully carved from a rather flat pebble. The large  curly-maned head is turned back with the finely detailed eyes  gazing up. The mouth, unusually, is partly open to reveal a set of  small even teeth. The plump body is supported on powerful legs,  with a big bushy tail curled around the hindquarters. The jade is  of opaque white colour suffused in places with black and grey.  The polish is fine and glossy.

Provenance:
Christies South Kensington, 7th November, 2014, lot 597
With Louis Joseph, 24th May 1954

Exhibited:
Priestley & Ferraro, 'From River Bed to Scholar's Desk. A Selection of Medieval Chinese Carved Jade Animal-form Weights', London, May 2016,  cat. no. 13

By the end of the Ming dynasty depictions of lions had lost much  resemblance to the real animals. This must be viewed as an artistic  decision rather than ignorance, as the appearance of real lions would  have been known from various tribute gifts from the West. Depicted in  paintings they often appear as lively companions to Buddhist figures such  as Manjusri or the arhat Vajraputra, and the same sense of playfulness is  evident in the present carving, in which the flat stone has been made to  look like a more rounded carving by means of trompe-l’oeil techniques.

Dimensions: Length: 10.5cm, 4 ⅛ inches

Date: Late Ming or early Qing dynasty, 17th century

Stock No. 2047

Price: On Request