A black and brown jade group of a camel attacked by a badger

The camel is shown seated with its legs tucked under its body. The
long neck is turned back, with a well modelled head with small folded
ears and closed mouth. The eyes, with long brows, peer back over the
small hump at the figure of a small badger which has its forepaws on
the haunches of the camel. The badger has a long snout and short ears.
The jade is of colour varying from black-mottled brown on the front to
deep inky black on the reverse. The polish is smooth and unctuous.
Christie’s London, 12th May 2009, lot 66
Von Oetzen Collection
Priestley & Ferraro, From River Bed to Scholar’s Desk.
A Selection of Medieval Chinese Carved Jade Animal-Form
Weights, May 2016, no. 1
S. Howard-Hansford, Jade – Essence of Hills and Streams,
no. D20, p. 131

Related camel and badger groups are illustrated in Chinese Jade
Animals, nos. 88 and 89. No.89 has similarities of jade material
and style of carving, suggesting the same hand or workshop.
The authors speculate that the camel and badger motif may
derive from the mother and child, but the aggressive attitude
of the badger here suggests otherwise. There is a Mongolian
fable about a badger that, while chasing a rat, espies a camel
and decides to chase that instead. Of course failure results.
The moral is that though the rat is small, at least it’s catchable.
The antiquity of such orally transmitted stories is difficult to
establish, but it seems at least possible that the badger and
camel motif represents ambition, and that a jade like the
present one given as a gift might have been construed as
an exhortation to aim high in life.

Dimensions: Length: 6.5cm, 2 ½ inches

Date: Song to Ming dynasty, 13th to 15th century

Stock No. 1588

Price: On Request