A jade carving of mythical lions on a rock

十八世紀   白玉山上三獅擺件

The carving is superbly executed in the form of three mythical lions on a rock. A lioness and a cub are seated on a high rock above a swirling stream of water in which a second cub is playing, all beneath an overhanging crag.  The stone is of highly polished pale green colour with a small amount of russet suffusion at the top of the rock.

Sotheby’s Paris, 16th December 2010, lot 16
Collection of Adolf Georg ‘Ago’ von Maltzan (1877-1927) and in the family since

No closely comparable jade carving appears to have been published. The specific nature of the subject suggests a rebus of auspicious meaning, but it remains so far unidentified. The mirror-like polish of the jade, especially on the outer side of the rock, is characteristic of the finest imperial work.

Adolf Georg ‘Ago’ von Maltzan (1877-1927), the former collector of the carving, was the German Ambassador to the USA. Earlier in his diplomatic career, in 1912, he was appointed Legation Secretary in Beijing, a posting that would have afforded him the chance to acquire the present piece.


Dimensions: Height: 7.5 cm, 3 ⅞ inches

Date: 18th century

Stock No. 1740

Price: On Request