Page 1

beasts & creatures

vanderven oriental art • the netherlands •


beastly behavior When we were considering a topic for this year’s catalogue, we particularly wanted to choose a subject which would cover a wide range of periods and materials. We came to realize that with selecting animals as a subject, we had an even wider scope than we initially thought. In fact, the choice of animals was so enormous, that we even had to limit ourselves when making our selection. It has proved impossible to be all-inclusive and cover every animal in this publication. We had to make a selection, which was largely arbitrary and based on our personal taste. Nonetheless, we believe we have succeeded in finding a decent balance of objects, spanning many periods; achieving a good cross-section of animals, covering a wide variety of materials. The combination of the exotic and realistic animals in Chinese art, have made the catalogue appealing and interesting at the same time. The often charming and funny portrayals, making the compilation an enjoyable process.

we have experienced a great increase in the appreciation and knowledge of symbolism and the deeper lying meaning of the objects. For us it has added great depth and significance when studying the pieces in our collection; challenging the way we look at the objects and bringing them even further to life. Beasts & Creatures, our fifth and final catalogue in this series, is the end result of many months of photography, research and writing. We hope you will enjoy reading it, as much as we did making it. All in the spirit of acquiring knowledge and adding to the enjoyment of Chinese art.

Floris van der Ven

As in any society, in the past or the present, animals play a significant role. They are part of our everyday lives in agriculture, the home and the arts. They have always featured widely in Chinese artistic representations, even as far back as Neolithic times. Animals were reproduced in many forms and materials and evident in all layers of Chinese society. Apart from depicting everyday life, when portrayed they also often have a deeper symbolic significance, as you can read in the essay by Rose Kerr and the catalogue entries. Before the mid 1990’s, appreciation of (animal) symbolism in Chinese art, was not very widespread in the West. Formerly for us, it did not really play a significant role when making choices in buying or selling our objects. More recently, after the opening up of China, there has been a burgeoning of the Chinese art market, as well as increased research on all aspects of Chinese art - both in China and the West. Since then,

Vanderven Oriental Art The Netherlands Tel. +31 (0)73 614 62 51



beasts & creatures: real and mythical animals in china rose kerr

From the Neolithic period onwards, depictions of animals have ornamented precious objects. They were modelled and painted on ceramics, carved in jade and cast in bronze. In the early dynasties such creatures were often associated with sacred rituals of burial. They included pottery models of real beasts that were placed in tombs to denote the material wealth of their occupants (1, 2, 3, 8, 13, 15, 16, 23). But more than this, tomb figurines were believed to be the real embodiment of people, animals and other valuable goods, that would animate in the Afterworld and provide comfort and sustenance for the deceased person. Thus they were not merely representations, but material manifestations. As time went on, real animals were imbued with lucky connotations. This often had to do with punning, for in Chinese there are many homophones. It is a language containing a myriad written characters, but a relatively small number of sounds to represent those pictograms. For example, the word for rooster (1) is gongji公雞. The first character is a pun for “duke” gong 公 and the second

as time went on, real animals were imbued with lucky connotations. this often had to do with punning, for in chinese there are many homophones

for “auspicious” ji吉. Further animal associations have to do with the characteristics that creatures display. Accordingly the rooster represents the sun, an ancient yang symbol, for it crows in the morning and together with the rising sun chases away darkness and evil. By contrast chickens (1) are one of the six domestic animals and represent the female principle yin. Geese and ducks (2, 3, 4) are believed to travel in pairs and mate for life, so they embody a happy marriage, harmony and fidelity. Another domestic animal, the dog, typifies fidelity and alertness and is the 11th sign of the Chinese zodiac (23, 24). During the third millennium BC real dogs were placed at the feet of the dead, to protect the soul and to accompany the spirit to heaven. By the Han dynasty they were replaced by pottery figurines. By contrast cats symbolise longevity, for the word for cat (mao 貓) is a hononym for an old man of eighty to ninety (mao耄) (20). When cats are shown with butterflies (hudie 蝴蝶) they also indicate someone of age seventy to eighty (die 耋). In China old age is revered and considered a great good fortune. Horses symbolise speed, and were precious commodities in China. In early times people rode small, tough ponies originating in the grassy northern steppes. In 103 BC Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty sent an army of 60,000 men to Ferghana Valley in Central Asian to negotiate with local horse-breeders. They managed to acquire 3,000 fine, large horses, of which about 1,000 made it all the way back to China. During the Tang dynasty such animals, bred from original stock, were highly treasured and owned only by the Emperor himself, plus the most noble and influential members of society (7, 8). Horses continued to adorn objects throughout the course of Chinese history, often involved in pleasurable activities such as hunting (9, 10, 11, 12).


Iron statues have added significance, such as the cast iron pig and ox (14). They are frequently found as single effigies in tombs dating from the Han to Yuan dynasties. The characterisation of these two pieces is similar to ceramic figures made during the Han dynasty and the Period of Disunion (15). However the robustness of the material (cast iron) had the supplementary feature of strength, capable of withstanding immense natural forces. In the third century BC cast iron statues of oxen were placed as bridge anchors at the great irrigation project at Guanxian in Sichuan province. Oxen were believed to possess power to subdue water spirits, and the statues face the river so their whole force is directed against unruly water demons. During the Tang dynasty great iron oxen over three metres in length were cast beside the bridge in Pujin in Shanxi province, the first permanent crossing of the Yangtze. Small tomb figures like 14 doubtless had similar protective powers. Ritual bronzes were cast in elephant form during the Chinese Bronze Age, an era when the huge beasts still roamed the land. By the Tang dynasty they were rare creatures (16), and in later times were often given as diplomatic gifts by foreign embassies, to be used in imperial court ceremonies (19). In India they were the sacred animals of both Buddhism and Hinduism, and in China they acquired the meanings of strength, wisdom and prudence, with their name (xiang 象) being a homophone for “auspicious” (xiang 祥). A boy washing an elephant (18) has the same characters (saoxiang 掃象) as the Buddhist term to break through illusion and come to true wisdom (saoxiang 掃象). Elephants carrying vases on their backs (17) form a pun for peace “taiping you xiang 太平有象 when there is peace there are signs”. In honour of this meaning, real elephants with vases on their backs appeared in processions to celebrate the emperor’s birthday during the Qing dynasty.

name 喜鹊 xique. Xi 喜also means happiness, and anyone who lives where magpies have nested will have joy in their life. The bird is a harbinger of spring, and is said to announce the arrival of guests and good news. For a scholar who will take Civil Service examinations, to dream of a magpie before tests is a prediction of achievement, while to hear the chatter of a magpie is an omen of success. However, another proverb that says “its voice is good but its heart is bad” meaning that the bird is given to flattery. A further folk tale relates how one of the Three Celestial Maidens who lived in the far north was bathing when a sacred magpie dropped a red berry on her robe. She ate the berry and gave birth to a son who had magic qualities, one of which was the ability to speak from the moment of his birth. He was seen as a gift from heaven, sent by the gods to bring peace. After his mother died he travelled downriver by boat, entering the territory of three chieftains who were at war. When they heard of his attributes they proclaimed him a saint and chose him as their leader, whereupon he named the land “Manchu”. Thus he was said to be the founder of the Manchu tribe, who later invaded China and ruled as the Qing dynasty, a period when magpie designs were especially popular. In addition to real animals and birds, Chinese decorative arts are replete with mythical creatures. One such is the Buddhist lion (25, 26, 27, 28). Often called “Foo dog” in the West, it actually represents a guardian lion. Lions were unknown in China, and by the Ming and Qing dynasties the beasts had come to resemble Pekinese dogs.

oxen were believed to possess power to subdue water spirits, and the statues face the river

An unusual artefact is the pair of cloisonné magpies on stands (5). Three-dimensional models of magpies are rarely seen, though they occur as a common motif on decorative arts such as porcelain and textiles. The magpie is not regarded as a pest (as it is in Europe) but rather as the “bird of happiness”. It is a popular motif for wedding paraphernalia, because of the punning connotation of its


so their whole force is directed against unruly water demons



Hence their Western name, though in Chinese they are never referred to as “dogs”. The notion of guardian lions came to China along with Buddhism during the mid-Han dynasty. Both religion and iconography travelled from India, where lions existed and represented protection of dharma (religious and moral law), and were placed at the foot of the throne on which Buddhist statues sat. In China, as well as being employed on Buddhist thrones, lion images were also chosen to guard palace doors and gates for the Emperor, who considered himself to be ruler of Heaven. By the Ming dynasty this privilege had spread through the upper echelons of society. Therefore statues of lions imply protection, wealth and privilege and are often depicted in pairs, a male leaning his paw upon an embroidered ball (in imperial contexts, representing supremacy over the world) and a female restraining a playful cub that is on its back (representing nurture). The small jade lion (28) has both ball and cub! Painted in the middle of a dish (29) is a curious creature called bai ze (literally meaning “white marsh”). It is an auspicious beast, said to have helped the mythical Yellow Emperor control hauntings and attacks by supernatural beings. Thus it is protective, intelligent and lucky. Another lucky animal is the spotted deer (21), who suggests that one will profit from high office, for its name lu鹿 has the same sound as the word for emolument lu祿.

the notion of guardian lions came to china along with buddhism during the mid-han dynasty

A white jade phoenix is shown with a stem of peonies in its beak (31). The phoenix in China has quite different values to the mythical bird known in the West, where it is associated with fire. A Chinese phoenix has humble origins, for originally it was a very plain bird, who worked hard night and day, every day of the year. During a severe drought the creature’s prodigious labours saved the lives of all kinds of birds. In order to thank him, many species of bird gave him their most beautiful feathers. Thereafter, the phoenix became a beautiful, noble and sacred bird and was considered King of the Birds. On his birthday, all the birds worship him. Moreover, the phoenix is the King of Birds while the peony is the King of Flowers, so that a combination of the two means wealth and rank, bright prospects, and happiness. The pair of leaping carp (22) symbolise success and achieving victory over adversity, owing to the myth of the golden carp. The fish was said to swim up the Yellow River every year to spawn, and when it reached the Dragon Gate it would leap up the mighty falls against the current. Fish who succeeded in reaching the top would metamorphosise into dragons and fly away. The reason that dragons are so revered in China is that they are powerful creatures, associated with benevolence and power and ultimately with the emperor himself. The dragon permeates Chinese history, Chinese folklore, Chinese religion and Chinese art. A lacquer box (30) is carved with two dragons chasing a flaming pearl, the latter emblematic of wisdom. The creatures have five claws, traditionally a feature of decoration reserved for the emperor. They frolic among waves, for unlike western fiery dragons, Chinese dragons are associated with water. In the spring they ascend to the skies and in the autumn bury themselves in the watery depths, thereby controlling the earth and the skies, from which rain comes to help plants grow and put out fires. Thus dragons also symbolise power over the heavens and seas, helping to maintain a Daoist balance between the two.



The pieces illustrated in this catalogue are made in the shape of, or decorated with, a variety of delightful animals, both real and fantastic. Throughout the history of China the forces of nature and of the imagined spiritual world have played an important part in people’s daily lives, and it is not surprising that painters and artisans should have chosen to bring those spheres within their design repertoires. Creatures were employed as protective talismans or as harbingers of good fortune. They could designate material or intellectual wealth and power. Their names were used as punning references to a whole range of agreeable objectives, and they themselves were depicted in manners that could be both beautiful and comical.

Bibliography Bartholomew, p.50, 126, 172-173, 192, 237-238 Camman, pp.94-102, Fang pp.41, 57-58, 90, 120-121 Kerr 2015, pp.74-76 Kerr 2016, pp.26-27 Paludan pp.264, 315-318, 451 Ströber pp.74-79, 84-90 Williams pp.262-262

生靈與野獸:中華文化中的動物與神獸 柯玫瑰 概要

自新石器時代起,動物紋飾遍布各類中華珍寶。人們將動物形象描摹繪制在瓷器表面,雕刻在玉器 上,鍛鑄成青銅器。在早期朝代,生靈的描繪往往與葬禮儀式有關。其中,真實野獸形制的陶俑被 置于墓室中,以顯示墓室主人生前的富足。但更重要的是,墓俑被視爲人、動物和其他有價值的物 品的化身。它們將在陰間爲死者延續其舒適的生活。因此,它們不僅僅是客觀再現,也是物質顯 靈。在這類明器中,陶瓷俑多見,鐵鑄像則稀有。 隨著時間的推移,諸多動物被賦予了吉祥的內涵。由于中文中有許多同音詞,這種聯想往往借助一 語雙關産生,動物名也就隨之帶有另一層幸運的含義。除了寫實的鳥獸,神話動物也大量出現在中 國的裝飾藝術中。本展冊中收錄的拍品出自漢至清朝,它們以各種喜慶祥瑞的動物和神獸形制或裝 飾。縱觀中國曆史,自然世界和想象中的精神世界的力量在人們的日常生活中發揮了重要作用,因 此,畫家和工匠們將這兩個領域帶入到他們的設計作品中也就不足爲奇了。動物形象被用作護身符 或視作好運的預兆;它們可以顯示物質或精神財富以及權力;動物的名字以雙關的形式被用來指代 一系列美好的寓意,而描繪的方式則多種多樣、亦莊亦諧。


1. rooster & chicken

Pottery figures of a rooster and a chicken, each standing firmly on both feet. They are made of grey earthenware, the plumage moulded in relief, covered with a layer of slip and highlighted with coloured pigments. These types of Han dynasty animal figures were generally made in multiples, using twin moulds, the identical halves then looted together. Figures such as these, were intended to be used as ‘spirit goods’(mingqi) – artefacts produced especially to console, comfort and aid those who passed on into the afterlife. As such they are considered to be a good reflection of domestic life at the time. This gives us an interesting insight into how people lived and what they consumed two thousand years ago. Han tombs often contained figures of domestic animals, probably echoing the deceased’s farm yard for use in the afterlife. It also indicates, that farming and animal husbandry were considered important economic activities during this era.

Literature Bisscop 2004, p. 234 & nr. 119 Bisscop 2007,p.129, nr. 63 Bonneux 2006, nr. 19 & 20 Guangxi 2006, p.220-221 & 298 Lau 1991, p.96, fig. 49 & 50 Paris 2014, p.76 fig.76

Rooster & Chicken China, Eastern Han Dynasty (25 BC-220 AD) Rooster: H: 22 cm W: 20 cm / Chicken: H: 18 cm W: 20 cm Provenance: Collection J.J. van der Ven, The Netherlands 陶雞一對 中國漢代(公元前206-公元220年) 雄雞:高22厘米;雛雞:高18厘米 來源:荷蘭J.J. van der Ven收藏

Chickens of a similar design, but in bronze, were unearthed from the Fengmenling site M26 in 2004. Pottery chickens and roosters were excavated from the Han Yangling Mausoleum complex, Shaanxi Province, in 1998 and 1999.



2. ducks

A group of pottery ducks of various sizes. Two stand on bronze feet, the other two are lying down and have their legs tucked under them. Such figures would have been moulded in two halves, and joined before firing. They have a white slip layer and traces of pigment. The Han dynasty, was a time of relative peace and greater prosperity. With this new wealth came the increased consumption of meat for all layers of society. It was increasingly included in the everyday diet, which had previously consisted of mainly rice and vegetables. Rearing animals, for consumption and trade, became an important part of farm activities. Besides silk worms, the so-called ‘six animals’ were commonly bred; these were sheep, cows, pigs, horses, dogs and poultry. Ducks would have been kept in a duck pool.

Comparable unglazed and glazed examples are in The Meiyingtang Collection, Geneva.

Literature Bisscop 2004, p. 246 Bisscop 2007, p.129, nr. 64 Krahl 1994, p.75 nr.97&98 Lau 1991, p.96, fig.46, p.150 fig.158

Ducks China, Eastern Han Dynasty (25BC-220 AD) W:10-23 cm 陶鴨

Chinese grave goods (mingqi) in the Han dynasty, often included replicas of domestic and wild animals. They were often made of pottery but in reduced size, such as these figures. Including replica animals, people and buildings, would allow the deceased to continue a similar comfortable lifestyle in the afterlife.


中國漢代(公元前206-公元220年) 寬:10-23厘米


3. goose vessels Large hollow pottery vessels in the shape of geese, with an opening on the top of their head, which was probably once closed off with a ceramic stopper. The head with incised eyes and flattened beak, sits on a long elegant neck. The plump body, has folded wings and feet moulded in relief, the short arched tail is thickly potted. The grey earthenware body has remnants of polychrome applied in a stylized pattern. The use for this type of vessel is a mystery, as the opening on the top of the head, would not have made pouring very practical. It likely served as an elegant receptacle for liquid, and was not intended to be a naturalistic rendition of a waterfowl. The stylized painted design in red, black and ochre, may well have been inspired by contemporary lacquerwares. Geese were not traditional farm yard animals, so not depicted as often as chickens or ducks. According to the yili - one of the four writings on Confucian ritual matters - the proper gift to offer a father when requesting a daughters hand was a goose. This custom was probably based on the belief that geese mated for life, making them symbols of marital happiness. Similar goose vessels can be found in the collection of the Portland Art Museum (Oregon) and in the David Dewey Collection. A comparable vessel in the shape of a duck is in the collection of the British Museum, London (Ac. Nr. 1994.605.97).


Goose Vessels

Bisscop 2004, p.240-241, Jacobson 2013, p.67 Jenkins 2005, p.76 Lau 1991, p.61 Welch 2008, p.74-75

China, Eastern Han Dynasty (25 BC - 220 AD) H: 33 cm L: 50 cm / H: 34 cm L: 49 cm TL tested by Oxford, UK 陶鵝一對 中國漢代(公元前206-公元220年) 高:33厘米,長:50厘米;高:34厘米,長:49厘米 經英國牛津大學熱釋光年代測定



4. hong A pair of gilded bronze incense burners in the shape of geese (hong 鹅). Each of these elegant birds, comprises two halves – the bottom half is the lower-body with webbed feet. The top half, which lifts off entirely, comprises the upper body with the wings, tails, neck and head. They are a true pair, as their pose mirrors one another - one has its head turned to the left, the other to the right. Their eyes and nostrils are deeply etched into the surface of their heads, their elongated beaks open - as if honking. The long hollow neck allows the fragrant smoke to exit from the hollow body. The wings on their backs are moulded in relief, with a feather pattern etched all over. The upturned tails have an aperture in the back, for letting air into the inner cavity and smoke out. Incense burners in the form of birds, were first produced in the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Novelty incense burners in the form of animals had a revival in the Song dynasty - in both bronze and ceramic - continued to be popular in the Yuan, Ming and Qing eras. In China, incense was burned inside and out by scholars, sages and monks alike. Not surprisingly burners, in many forms, are therefore often seen in pictorial art. Frequently they are depicted in conjunction with two other vessels - a tool vase and a covered incense box. The main forms of incense were: powder, pellets, sticks and fragrant wood chips, such as sandalwood. Scholars tended to prefer the use of wood chips, perhaps because the more complicated lighting process would involve a more meditative preparation.

Literature Bisscop 2004, p.240-241 Harrison-Hall 2001, p.498, nr. 16: 92 Tsang & Moss 1986, p.238 Welch 2008, p.74-75 Williams 1976, p.216

Hong Geese are migratory birds, which fly away from the shadow (yin), following the sun (yang) to the south in the winter. For this reason they are an embodiment of Dao dualism: yin-yang, summer-winter, dark-light & male-female. This would have appealed greatly to the Chinese literati. Geese were also considered a suitable gift for a military man, as their behavioural characteristics – such as the use of sentinels and flying in formation – were not dissimilar to those in the military. Comparable incense burners are in the British Museum, London (nr. 1986,0715). The Victoria & Albert Museum, London has a comparable earlier one (nr 164:1,2-1876).


China, Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) H: 26,7 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 鍍金銅鴻雁一對 中國明代(公元1368-1644年) 高:26,7厘米 來源:英國私人收藏



geese are migratory birds, which fly away from the shadow (yin), following the sun (yang) to the south in the winter


5. magpies day of the seventh lunar month, on a celestial bridge made of a flock of magpies. As a result a pair of magpies are associated with conjugal bliss and fidelity. A pair of magpies is therefore a popular wedding motif, as together they also stand for double happiness. A pair of almost identical magpies, on cloisonné perches, are in the collection of Austrian Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), Vienna (nr. EM447). A similar single magpie is in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (nr.23.590).


A pair of cloisonné enamel magpies, on later wooden perches. These charming models are decorated, in black and white champlevé and cloisonné enamels, on copper. Their black and gold speckled heads are turned, looking backwards. The eye sockets are slightly raised and may have been set with coloured glass or stones. The wings, which are slightly raised from the body, have an alternating black and white feather pattern. Their long tail feathers, are black on top and black with gold speckles underneath. The abdomen is white with gold flecks, the legs and sharp claws are gilt copper. In contrast to Western beliefs, in China the Magpie is considered a bird of good omen. The traditional Chinese word for magpie is xique (喜鹊) - literally means ‘good fortune birds’ - as such they are thought to signal impending good news. Like geese and ducks, magpies also represent marital happiness. According to Chinese legend, a famous pair of separated lovers is reunited every seventh


Avitabile 1981, p.179 nr.100 Bartholomew 2006, p.50 & 52 Quette 2011, p.277 nr.105 Jenyns & Watson 1980, p. 138, nr.97 Welch 2008 , p.77 Williams 1976, p.262

Magpies China, 18th Century H: 21 cm Provenance: private collection, UK 琺瑯瓷喜鵲一對 中國清中葉(18世紀) 高:21厘米 來源:英國私人收藏




6. cranes & peaches

A pale green jade carving, with some russet inclusions, of two recumbent cranes with two peaches on a branch. One of the birds sits on top of a peach, its foot on the branch; the other has its neck turned and is preening its tail feathers. Their feathers are finely carved in low relief and the tops of their heads have a hatched pattern.

a long and prosperous life. Due to the material and Daoist symbolism of this carving, it would have held great appeal to the Chinese scholar. Similar jade groups are in the collections of The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (nr.0.4.1938) & The Metropolitan Museum, New York (nr. 02.18.555).

The crane (he) is a well-known longevity symbol in China. Traditionally it was believed that cranes could live to be more than a 1000 years old and have the ability to carry the souls of the deceased to the Western Paradise. The sacred Queen Mother of the West, was said to ride a crane to carry her between the mythical paradise of Mountain Island Penglai and earth. A pair of cranes can also represent a long lasting and happy marriage. The crane on a mandarin’s rank badge, indicated he was an important civil servant of the first and highest rank. Peaches (tao) were also a symbol for longevity, and occur frequently in and on 18th century objects. Together with the cranes they form the rebus ‘may the crane and peaches extend your years’.

Literature Bartholomew 2006, p.178-179 Keverne 2010, p.154 fig. 65 Lin 2009, p.55-56, cat. nr. 45 Pei 2004, p.52

Cranes & Peaches China, 18th Century L: 9.5 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 鶴獻蟠桃

The subject matter suggests this jade could have been an auspicious birthday or wedding gift, wishing the recipient

中國清中葉(18世紀) 長:9.5厘米 來源:英國私人收藏



7. dancing horse multiplying horses for military, as well as recreational, purposes. It was understood that a powerful and superior cavalry, was essential to retaining their power. Horses were an the ideal vehicle for impressive displays of grandeur. The Tang dynasty Emperor Xuanzhong (r.712-756), is recorded to have had a troupe of a hundred performing dancing horses (wuma 舞馬), which performed at his birthday celebrations. Zhang You, a minister at the Emperor’s court, describes how they performed to special music and lyrics called the ‘Song of the Upturned Cup’. With colourful tail pennants the eight dancing rows form into columns; The five hues of the temporal dragons (dragon-horses) are adapted to the directions. Bending their knees, they clench wine cups in mouth, attending to the rhythm, Inclining their hearts, they offer up longevity never ending

A naturalistically modelled pottery horse, in an elegant pose with its right leg raised. The sleek head, which is turned slightly to the left, has flared nostrils, finely inset eyes and open mouth. There is a groove down the arched neck, which would have had a mane made of real hair. The tail is docked and tied together in a style typical of the early Tang period. The facial features and musculature of the body and legs, give the horse a realistic appearance. It is covered all over in white slip, with the eyes accented in black pigment and the nostrils and hooves in red. The left flank has a small area of bronze encrustation, which was probably transferred from a bronze object, next to which it stood when interred. During the Tang era, there was a substantial increase in the import of the coveted thoroughbred horses, from the Middle-East. These beautiful and elegant beasts, were also brought into China as tributes from vassal states. The large demand for this type horses, also lead to the flourishing of stud farms on the Western and Northern borders of China. A special Horse Policy bill was passed and a special unit called the Tai Po Zhi 太僕寺, was set up to take care of the imperial horse husbandry. This with the aim of


This pottery figure, could well represent such a dancing horse, due to its posture and lack of a saddle.

Literature Bisscop 2004 , p.182-191 Caroselli 1987, p.55, 60 Choi 2007, p. 261, nr. 115 Cologne 2008, pl.15 & 14 Jacobson 2013, p. 220-221 Kentucky 2000, p. 52-53 & pl. 144

Dancing Horse China, Early Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) H: 57 cm TL tested by Oxford, UK Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands 駿馬 中國唐代(公元618-907年) 高:57厘米 經英國牛津大學熱釋光年代測定 來源:荷蘭私人收藏


8. striding horse The volume of pottery horses found in tombs, testifies to the importance attributed to this animal by Tang society. Horses were considered the reward for military invasions, as well as the foundation of imperial solidity. Thoroughbred horses were traded with neighbouring Arab nations for silk, from as early as the Han dynasty, gradually replacing the more sturdy indigenous steppe ponies. Besides military use, horses were also employed in recreational activities involving dancing, polo and hunting - themes also seen in contemporary wall frescoes and paintings. Even the women of the Tang court were known to hunt and play polo on horseback. Galloping horses involved in the game of polo graced the tomb walls of Prince Zhanghuai (654-684). Military parades including horses, were depicted on the tomb walls of Princess Yongtai (684 –701) and Yide (682–701) in Xian (Shaanxi Province). This large unglazed pottery horse, which stands on a rectangular base, is very naturalistically modelled. Its long striding legs, pricked ears, wavy forelock and flowing saddle cloth, all suggest a horse in motion. The mouth is open and the short tail is bound and dressed. Modelled from greyish pottery, it was then covered in a white slip; the ears, nostrils, mouth and saddlecloth cold painted in orange-red pigments. The back of the neck, has a channel for the insertion of a mane of real hair. Each part of the horse would have been individually moulded, then assembled with slip before being fired. The facial features were often individually modelled, giving each piece a unique character. In the Tang period, pottery models of horses were produced in substantial quantities; but the size and amount allowed in burials were regulated by strict sumptuary laws. The unusually large size of this horse indicates it would have been made for an important nobleman or princeling.

Literature Choi 2007, p.231 Cologne 2008, pl.12 – 14 Harrist & Bower 1997 Kentucky 2000, p.48

Striding Horse China, Early Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) H: 78 cm L: 85 cm TL tested by Oxford, UK Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands (2005) 千里之行 中國唐代(公元618-907年) 高:78厘米,長:85厘米 經英國牛津大學熱釋光年代測定 來源:荷蘭私人收藏



9. horse & trainer which was likened to the heavenly horse flying in the sky; but until it had learnt fly, would be kept tethered awaiting appraisal. A tethered mount, can therefore represent a young official, whose talents are not yet fully discovered. Similar bottles of the same period, size and style - with a varying main décor - are in the collections of the Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Kassel (Inv.Nr.OP32), and the Prinsessehof, Leeuwarden ( 1963-8). A comparable one is also listed in The Butler Family Collection.

A high transitional style pear-shaped bottle, with fine underglaze blue decoration. The body is sturdily potted and stands on a high foot-rim. The bulbous body curves into a narrow neck, the mouth-rim flaring out slightly. The main scene is of a horse and a man - possibly a trainer or a groom - under a willow tree. Between them is a hitching post, which stands amongst rocks and shrubbery. Behind the figure are plantain trees, rocks, shrubs and ticks for grass. On the shoulder is a horizontal band with flower and leaf scrolls, between double blue lines. The neck has two larger vertical bands of flowers and scrolls. The horse (ma) - the seventh creature in the Chinese zodiac - plays a prominent role throughout Chinese history and culture. The horse has a rich symbolic heritage, an emblem of power, speed, energy and perseverance. Because they also represented nobility and wealth, horses are likewise associated with academic pursuits. Being a candidate in the civil examinations was referred to as ‘horse riding’, as the small cells in which the exams took place were likened to horse stalls. There are also literary allusions to talent,


Literature Butler 2008, p.132, nr 93 Kassel 1990, p.253, nr. 35 Pei 2004, p.98 Ströber 2011, p.165, nr.62 Welch 2008, p.132-134

Horse & Trainer China, Chongzhen Period, c.1640-1643 H: 19 cm Provenance: Private collection, The Netherlands 馴馬圖青花瓶 中國明崇禎年間(公元1628-1644年) 高:19厘米 來源:荷蘭阿姆斯特丹私人收藏


10. horse riders This deep dish with a scalloped rim, decorated in underglaze blue, has a central scene of a male with two female figures horseback riding. They are accompanied on foot by a bannerman leading the way, with a groom following on behind. The male figure, riding a mottled horse, is richly dressed with a fur-trimmed hat. The ladies, who carry small whips, also have fur headdresses each adorned with two long feathers. The horses have elaborate tack and flowing saddlecloths. The rim has twelve panels in the shape of lotus petals, each with a female musician, interspersed with flower sprays. The underside has the eight precious objects around the rim and an apocryphal Chenghua mark in a double blue ring. The elegantly attired gentleman rider, wears a winter court hat, which seems to be fur-trimmed. He also appears to have a generous moustache. The two female riders wear fur headbands, which were particularly fashionable in the 16th and 17th century. Many types of animal fur were used for this purpose, but sable and fox were the most popular. Due to the shape and way it was worn, this type of headband is referred to as a ‘crouching rabbit’. This garment was very much a luxury item, worn as a mark of high social status and wealth. The glamorous fashion for wearing fur, had initially come to the Chinese court from the nomadic northern tribes, where they traditionally used fur as a clothing material.

Horse Riders A similar dish is in the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (nr. C.33-1931).

Literature Chen 2016, p.3-19 Chunming 2010, p.79-80 & fig.151 Hartog 1990, p. 61 nr.40 Macintosh 1977 p.70 nr.50

China, Kangxi Dynasty ( 1662 – 1722 ) Ø: 34 cm Provenance: - JFC collection, UK (2015) - With Marchant & Son, London 騎獵圖青花盤 中國清康熙年間(公元1662-1722年) 直徑:34厘米 來源:英國JFC收藏;英國倫敦馬氏亞洲藝術品收藏



11. horses of mu wang shadows with a single leap. Rising Mist, rushed along the crest of the clouds and the eighth horse was called Wing Bearer, whose body had fleshy plumes. The subject matter became popular on porcelain from the Transitional period onwards. The allusions to immortality in this legend, made it an appealing subject matter to Daoist scholars. King Mu Wang’s horses can also be found reproduced on a host of other art forms including jade boulders, snuff bottles and scroll paintings.

This jar and cover are decorated in underglaze blue with copper-red, on a celadon green ground, depicting the Eight Horses of King Mu Wang. The body of the jar has seven horses amongst patches of grass, tufts of cloud and rockwork with two tall pines. On the top of the lid is the eighth horse, with a patch of grass and a white moon with a blue circle The decorative scheme is slightly raised in low relief. King Mu Wang (1001-947 BC), was the third ruler of the Zhou dynasty. Legend had it, that he longed to visit the Paradise of the Queen Mother of the West, where the immortality peaches grew. He was driven there in a chariot drawn by eight remarkable horses, with supernatural powers, alleged to be as swift as dragons. Each steed was supposed to have a unique appearance and distinctive qualities. Their individual names reflected their talents: the first was called Beyond Earth, after its hooves which never touched the ground; the second was named Windswept Plumes, as it went faster than any bird. The third - Rushby-Night - could cover 10,000 leagues in a night; the fourth was Faster-than-Shadow, because it could keep up with the journeying sun. Number five was Finer-than-FlashingLight, after its glossy coat and Faster-than-Light - cast ten


The Hillwood Estate Collection (Washington), has a similar jar. The Royal Collection (UK) has a rouleau vase with the same décor, with added European gilt mounts (inv. nr. RCIN 957). The Frits van der Lugt Collection (Paris), has a beaker vase with the same palette and pattern (inv. nr. 6650A). The British Museum (London) has a beaker vase with the comparable decorative scheme on a white ground (acc. nr. Franks.284).

Literature Ayers 2016, p.501 nr.1272 Lunsingh-Scheurleer 1981, p.89, nr. 112 Pei 2004, p. 98 Silbergeld & Wang 2016, p.299 & 329/19 Ströber 2011, p. 91-92 nr.31 Welch 2008, p.133

Horses of Mu Wang China, Kangxi Period (1662 - 1722 ) H: 25.7 cm Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands 穆王八駿罐 中國清康熙年間(公元1662-1722年) 高:25.7厘米 來源:荷蘭私人收藏


12. jade horse jade boulder from which this horse was fashioned is exceptionally large, the shape of the stone playing an important role in the final shape of the carving. The weight and volume suggest it may have been used as a paper weight in a scholars studio. Similar large and impressive carvings of horses, can be found in museum collections such as the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Q34-1946), The Metropolitan Museum, New York ( and the British Museum, London. Other known examples are recorded in major private collections such as the Woolf Jade Collection, UK - which has a pair - and that of John D. Rockefeller III, USA. An earlier Qianlong period dated horse, is in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

This elegant reclining horse, is carved from a large piece of opaque light green jade, with a thin russet vein over its back. Its head is turned backwards to the left, the long tail curling over its rear leg. The legs are softly rounded and folded under the body. The facial features are crisply incised, with pricked ears and flaring nostrils. Clusters of mane hair, fall symmetrically to both sides of the back of the neck. Jade horse carvings are known from as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) and have continued to be a favoured subject matter, right up to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). During the Tang era, stone or ceramic horses were generally depicted in a standing position; portrayed in an animated fashion displaying power and grace, the tail docked and tied. It is not until later periods, that sculpture and paintings depict horses reclining. The posture and treatment of this particular jade carving, therefore places it in this later period. The size of the


Literature Boda 199, p.104 nr. 52 Keverne 2010, p.157 fig. 75 Krahl & Michaelson 2013, p.220 nr.101 Lin 2009, no.39 Rawson & Ayres 1975, p. 18 & 118-119, nrs.392-393 Rawson 1995, nrs. 26:15 &26:20

Jade Horse China, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), early 19th century L: 19,7 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 玉馬 中國19世紀早期 長:19.7厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


13. camel A pottery figure of a reclining camel, its legs folded under its body, the tail between the hind legs. The head, with a friendly expression, is turned slightly to the left. The ears are folded back, its mouth closed and the slightly bulging eyes are wide open. Between the humps is a detachable, satchel, supposedly filled with merchandise. Fur details are clearly modelled at the neck, head and top of the legs. The whole is made of grey terracotta, covered in beige and white pigments. During the Tang dynasty (618-906), great cultural, economic and diplomatic achievements were made by the Chinese. The Silk Road had become the most important factor of this prosperous period, connecting the Far East to Western civilizations. It was along this route that, merchants, explorers and monks travelled; exchanging foreign products such as silk, tea and ceramics for horses, spices and perfumes. By far the best means to make this long trip was by camel. The two-humped Bactrian camel (luo tuo) - or ‘true’ camel - came to China from Central Asia, and for many centuries was used as a beast of burden along the silk road. Camels had the ability to carry up to 450 kg of cargo, while travelling 45 - 50 km per day. The soft cushions under their three toes, ensure they do not sink into the hot desert sand, as well as giving them grip in rocky areas. Their long double set of eyelashes, nostrils which can be closed and thick hair in their ears, protects them against the sand and dust. The reserves in the camels’ humps, ensures it can go up to nine days without water or food. They are also very adept at locating water sources and avoiding sand storms in the desert. These special traits, ensured they were indispensable for travelling the treacherous east-west trade routes across the arid desert. The importance of the camel to the wealth of the traders, would explain why Tang period art is particularly rich in representations of the camel - either with and without riders and baggage.

Literature Huo 2008, pl. 46 Jacobson 2013, p.240-241 Knauer 1998, pl. 35 Lu 1992, p.83 Mater 2011, p.86

Camel China, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) H:19 cm L: 29 cm TL tested by Oxford, UK Provenance: Private Collection, UK 陶臥駱駝

A comparable reclining camel is in the collection of the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne. A similar camel – with baggage and rider - is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Acc. Nr. 2015.500.7.5).


中國唐代(公元618-907年) 高:19厘米,長:29厘米 經英國牛津大學熱釋光年代測定 來源:英國私人收藏


14. pig & ox Two cast iron figures of a pig and an ox. Both animals, which were cast using piece-moulds, have hollow bodies. The bellies are closed and have two holes, probably for spacer pegs used during casting. Along the back, head and underside are distinct mould-seams. Both animals stand on all four legs and the tail, on a high narrow frame. The pig has a short wrinkled snout with large nostrils. The almond shaped eyes are clearly defined with a line in relief; the ears are unusually long and floppy. The ox, which is smaller and lighter, has long curved horns and small ears. It has decorative halter, embellished with beading on its forehead. The stylistic features show many similarities to pottery and bronze figures of the same period. Domesticated animals, such as the pig (zhu) and the ox (niu), were important to agriculture and welfare in China. Their importance to everyday life, is testified by the recurrence of these animal representations, excavated from tombs. Even though pottery animals are the more common, cast iron animals have also been found from the Han up to the 14th century. Perhaps being made from metal, they were considered to be more luxurious and sturdy than ceramic versions, but more economical than bronze objects. The pig, one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, was a popular farm animal for consumption. It was also vital to the Chinese economy, where ownership of a pig was a sign of wealth. The ox, also a zodiac animal, is emblematic of springtime, fertility and agriculture in general. Cattle was highly valued, as a beast of burden and as draught animal used for wet-rice cultivation. The ox was also the symbol of gentle strength and an ideal and simple country life. They are particularly associated with warding floods, and as such often placed by rivers or lakes. The British Museum, London, holds two cast-iron oxen both from a later date (nr. 1993.0804.1 & 1994.0129.5).

Literature Bisscop 2004, p.179, nr 74 & p.198 Derui 2011, p.127-136 Guangxi 2006, p.215 & 288 Hong Kong 1993, nr.48 Needham & Wagner 2008 Rawson 2007, p.31 Taipei 2009, p.58 & 78 Welch 2008, p.139 & 140 Zhongshu 1982, p.122-140

Pig & Ox China, Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) Pig: H: 18 cm L: 43 cm / Ox: H: 27 cm L: 37 cm Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands 鐵豬與鐵牛 中國漢代(公元前206-公元220年) 豬:高18厘米,長43厘米;牛:高27厘米,長37厘米 來源:荷蘭私人收藏




Cast Iron Amongst the well-known inventions in China - such as paper, gun powder, porcelain and the compass – iron-casting is a less publicized one. Cast iron played an important role in Chinese industry, long before it was produced in Europe. In about 300 BC, Chinese ironworkers discovered that when burning iron-ore mixed with charcoal, it produced a thick metallic liquid instead of a bloom. We now know, that the carbon from the charcoal, mixes with the iron-ore to produce an alloy with a low melting point (1130°C). This hot liquid can be poured into moulds, where it cools into hard and durable (but brittle) cast iron. The Chinese quickly appreciated the advantages of cast iron over wrought iron. The ability to cast it, meant that all of the techniques previously developed for casting bronze or gold could be adapted. They could easily and cost-effectively, mass-produce strong and durable artefacts at a lower cost than with bronze. The casting technique also allowed for the addition of intricate ornamentations and complex shapes. Practical and utilitarian objects were produced such as ploughshares, swords, bells, scissors, knives, needles and cooking pots. But also artefacts for the decoration of the home and temples.


15. ox A pottery figure of an ox, standing with all four legs on a rectangular plinth. It is modelled with its right leg in front, giving the appearance of forward striding movement. Its stocky body, is handsomely embellished with bossed trappings; the tail hangs loose between the legs. Its small, slightly raised, head also has an ornamented halter. The mouth is closed, the ears are projected sideways, under handsome curved horns. The body is coldpainted in red pigments, the details left uncoloured, so the white slip layer shows. Since earliest time, the ox was used to work on the land. As such, it became closely associated with fertility and successful harvests. In Chinese thought, the ox was also one of the Six Domestic Animals, referred to as liuchu. These also included the dog, pig, goat, horse and fowl. Appearing in literature dating from at least the Eastern Zhou period (770-256 BC), the welfare of the liuchu (六畜) was interpreted as a reflection of a well-ordered cosmos. Ensuring social order, characterised the quality of an upright man in ancient China. A comparable figure was found in the tomb of Lou Rui, Prince of Dong’an Commandery. A similar figure is now in the Koger Collection, USA. This type of ox can sometimes be seen harnessed to an ox cart, also depicted in a contemporary mural discovered in Shuozhou, now in the Shanxi Museum, Henan.

Literature Ayers 1985, p.26 nr. 7 Bisscop 2004, p.179-180. Bower 2002, p.87 nr. 13 New York 2005, p.246 nr. 142 New York 2016, p.400 nr. 112 Thorpe 1988, p. 190 nr.123

Ox China, Northern Qi Dynasty (549 – 577 AD) H:33 cm W: 40 cm TL-tested by Oxford, UK Provenance: - JFC collection, UK (2014) - With Vanderven Oriental Art (2008) 陶牛 中國北齊(公元549-577年) 高:33厘米,寬:40厘米 經英國牛津大學熱釋光年代測定 來源:英國JFC收藏(2014年) Vanderven東方藝術行(2008年)



16. elephant then occupied by the Chinese. By the 17th century, there were no known native elephants. Elephants were also brought to China as tribute gifts, along with other exotic animals such as lions. The Tang court was regularly gifted elephants, which were kept in the imperial stables and fed daily rations of beans and rice. In the winter they were dressed in blankets and sheep’s pelts to keep them warm. They would be trained to perform tricks and dances at festivities, or take part in elephant fights for the amusement of the court. A Tang period sancai glazed elephant, with a saddle cloth, is in the Meiyingtang Collection, Geneva. A white glazed elephant, but with a candelabra on its back, is in the same collection. A rare early unglazed pottery figure of an elephant, standing four-square on short legs. The elongated body, which slopes up at the shoulders, is slightly reminiscent of an ox. The narrow head has short tusks curving around the curled trunk. It appears to wear a halter, indicating it was a captive and not a wild elephant. It has slightly bulging eyes and the smaller ears of the Asian elephant. The greyish pottery is covered all-over in a white slip. The elephant, along with the Rhinoceros, was indigenous to the whole of China during the Neolithic and bronze ages. However, it gradually became extinct, as it was hunted for its ivory and its natural habitat slowly disappeared, due to growing population and agriculture. They were also eaten, the trunk a particular delicacy; one Tang writer describing them as “fatty and crisp…well suited to being roasted”. By the time of the first emperor (c. 210 BC), elephants were only found in the mountainous regions of, what is now, Guangdong Province. During the Han dynasty a few hundred years later, they were already being imported from the north of Vietnam, which was


Literature Bartholomew 2006, p.237 Bisscop 2004, p. 156-158 Cohen & Motley 2008, p.191 Krahl 2006, p.175 nr. 1184 & p.177 nr.1186

Elephant China, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) L: 21,5 cm TL tested by Oxford, UK Provenance: Private Collection, UK 陶象 中國唐代(公元618-907年) 長:21.5厘米 經英國牛津大學熱致發光年代測定 來源:英國私人收藏


17. elephants with vases for vase (ping) has the same sound as the first character of peace (ping’an). The word elephant (xiang) is the same as the character for sign or omen; so together with a vase, it forms the Chinese saying taiping youxiang - meaning ‘when there is peace, there are signs’. Sometimes this symbolism is expanded to include the saddle cloth (an), which also means harmony; together they form the meaning ‘perfect peace and harmony in the universe’. During the Qing Dynasty, real elephants bearing vases on their backs would form part of special imperial processions; this can be seen on woodblock prints depicting scenes from Emperor Kangxi’s 60-day 60th birthday celebrations in 1713. In Chinese art, elephants carrying vases are also portrayed in other materials such as Cloisonné, porcelain or jade. The British Museum (London) holds a comparable, 18th century, bronze elephant (acc. nr. 1985,1018.1). A pair of bronze censers, in the form of caparisoned elephants, with vases on their backs. They are a true pair with identical embellishments, one its head turned to the left, the other to the right. The ears are small and tusks short, identifying them as Asian elephants. They have elaborate beaded and tasselled trappings, around the body and head. The howdah-cloth worn over their backs, is fringed round the edge and has chased foliage decoration with a geometric fret border. Each elephant bears a gushaped vase on its back, the wide flaring neck decorated with scrolls; strands of beads in relief, are suspended between its monster mask handles. The foot of the vase is formed by concentric bands. The Ming court was regularly presented with elephants as tributes from neighbouring states, such as Cambodia, Vietnam or Siam. These majestic beasts were obviously held in high regard, as large stone statues of elephants stand along the spirit road, leading to the tomb of the first Ming emperor Hongwu. Elephants were associated with strength and a stable peaceful society. Vases are symbolic of peace, as the word


Literature Bartholomew 2006, p.237 Paludan 2006, p.437 Pei 2004, p.74-75 Thorpe 1988, p. 97 nr. 31 Xu & Li 2016, p.154, nr.91

Elephants with Vases China, Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) H: 19 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 銅象燭臺一對 中國明代(公元1368-1644年) 高:19厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


18. boy on elephant Because of its size and physical strength, the elephant is a symbol of great mental strength and wisdom. Generally a very auspicious animal - white even more than grey. It is also considered a sacred animal in Buddhism, the word elephant actually appearing around 25,000 times in Buddhist canon. Buddha himself is said to have entered the right side of his immaculate mother Maya, in the form of a white elephant at his conception. Also the Buddhist Luohan Puxian, (bodhisattva of Universal Virtue), is often depicted riding an elephant. Jade carvings of boys on elephants are in the collections of the Palace Museum, Beijing, The Asian Art Museum, San Francisco (nr. B60J396) and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (nr. 0.1-1951).

Literature A carving in fine light green nephrite jade, with some russet inclusions, of a caparisoned elephant with a boy riding on its back. The animal stands four-square, with its head in three-quarter profile, turned to the left. It has a curling trunk touching the tip of its right ear and short straight tusks pointing to the left. The elephant’s wrinkled skin is implied by shallow carving. The long and wide fringed howda saddlecloth, is decorated on either side with a scene of a rock in waves under swirling clouds. A laughing half-kneeling boy, sits on top of the elephant. He is wearing a long-sleeved tunic over a pair of trousers and pointed shoes and holds a scepter, in the form a lingzhi fungus, in his hands. This figure is full of auspicious motifs, the intended meaning determined by which attributes accompany the elephant. A boy climbing onto or on top of an elephant (qixiang) represents ‘may there be good fortune’ (jixiang). The phrase for ‘riding an elephant’ is close in pronunciation to the character for good fortune or auspicious (jixiang). To ensure the intended message is clear, the boy also carries a wish granting scepter (ruyi), which together then form the phrase jixiang ruyi – may everything be auspicious, and may your wishes come true.


Boda 1997, p.106 nr. 53 Bartholomew 2006, p.237 nr. 8.12.1 Knight, Li & Bartholomew 2007, nr.73 Lin 2009, p.53, nr.41 Rawski & Rawson 2005, p.377, nr.300

Boy on Elephant China, 18th Century H:11,2 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 童子騎象(玉) 中國18世紀 高:11.2厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


a boy climbing onto or on top of an elephant represents ‘may there be good fortune’



19. xiang An unusual pair of light orange enameled porcelain elephants, standing four-square and looking straight ahead. They are a matching pair, identical except one has its trunk curling to the left, the other to the right. Their narrow faces have prominent eyebrows, with white eyes and black pupils. They have exaggerated wrinkled skin all over, the furrows swirling at the tops of the legs. The short legs, each end in four stubby toes with indented toenails. The soles of the feet are slightly rough and unglazed. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), standing or laying caparisoned elephants (xiang) are portrayed fairly often, typically with a saddlecloth and sometimes also with a vase or candle holder on their backs. They are hardly ever seen unembellished, such as these examples. Some earlier, unadorned ones, are known in blanc de chine porcelain. What is evident, is that the depiction of elephants on and in Chinese ceramics was never very realistic - sometimes even comical. This is because potters would probably never have seen the real animal, therefore relying on woodblock prints for inspiration. In the late 18th century, elephants were still rare and exotic animals for most Westerners as well. One of the earliest recorded elephants in captivity, was an Asian elephant in Aachen, gifted to Charlemagne in 797 AD by the caliph of Baghdad. When elephants did arrive in Europe, they would have been kept in the private menageries of royalty or aristocrats. Most of the general public will never actually have seen an elephant; so they lived in the popular imagination as mysterious, fabulous and powerful beasts. Few people could even be sure that they definitely existed, let alone imagine what a real one actually looked like. Models of elephants such as these, would therefore definitely have played to the taste for all thing strange and exotic, and would have been a very luxurious adornment. The Victoria & Albert Museum (London), holds a various Chinese porcelain elephants, including a undecorated blanc de chine one (nr.4822-1901).


Literature Donnelly 1969, p.183 & pl.110 Howard & Ayres 1978, p. 608-609 nr 636 & 637 Sargent 1991, p.244 Ströber 2011, p.84 & p.88

Xiang China, Jiaqing Period (1796-1820) L:17 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 瓷象一對 中國清嘉慶年間(公元1796-1820年) 長:17厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


20. cat A porcelain bottle, in underglaze blue, of an unusual shape and decoration. It has a slightly tapering body, gently curving into a tall slender neck, which flares into a bulb, below a short cylindrical mouth . The main decoration on the body, is a wide horizontal band, with a continuous scene of a crouching cat in a garden. It sits amongst big leafy plants, with butterflies and insects flying around. On the other side is a large rockery, surrounded by vegetation. The neck has a continuous scene with a lizard-like qilong, amongst scrolling lotus flowers and fronds and two small swastikas. The shoulder and mouth have a narrow band with a pendant lappet border. The mallet shape of this bottle is unusual, apparently only produced in around the middle of the 17th century. Similar shaped bottles were in the ‘Hatcher Cargo’ - a shipwreck where the salvaged porcelain can be dated to circa 1643. Cats rarely appear on porcelain, though there are examples of nightlights in the shape of cats. However, we know felines were a favoured subject matter in imperial painting and poetry during the Ming dynasty (1388-1644). The artist of the cat on this vase, could have been inspired by woodblock prints, which were produced in considerable numbers during the Ming era. One such print is by Tuhui Zongyi from Principles of Painting - Cats and Flowering Bean Vine (1607), which prominently features a crouching cat. According to legend, the domestic cat was introduced into China from India. Buddhist monks imported them, for keeping rodents at bay from the sacred scriptures in the temples. They were highly appreciated for their mousecatching skills, particularly in rural areas. Because of their cleanliness, they also became popular pets in women’s quarters. Linguistically, the character for cat (mao) sounds like that for an octogenarian (someone in their 80’s). A butterfly (die), represents a seventy year old. So a cat with


the butterfly, could express the wish for someone to reach the age of 80. The combination of those two characters sound like maodie – which in China refers to an very elderly person, between 70-90 years old. Bottle’s with a similar shape, but with a differing décor, are in the collection of the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden (nr. NO00288) and with later silver caps in the Topkapi Seray, Istanbul (TKS 15/4540 & 4525). The Princessehof, also has a different shaped vase from the same period, painted in a very similar style. It has a scene with a seated spotted rabbit, which, stylistically, looks very similar the cat on this vase ( GMP 1963-8).

Literature Krahl & Ayres 1986, nrs.1959 & 1960 Lunsingh-Scheurleer 1981, p.65, nr.69 Sheaf & Kilburn 1988, p.16-17 pl.70 &72 Ströber 2011, p. 164 nr.62 Welch 2008 p.115 Xu & Li 2016, p.113, nr.64

Cat China, Transitional Period (1620 – 1683), mid-17th century H:39,3 cm Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands 貓嬉圖瓶 中國明末清初(公元1620-1683年) 高:39.3厘米 來源:荷蘭私人收藏


21. deer An rare large porcelain figure of a standing deer. Naturalistically modeled, the animal gracefully stands, with its right foreleg lifted. The raised head, has gentle face with an alert expression, wide open turquoise eyes with dark pupils and flared nostrils. It is finely enameled, in warm ochre-yellow with white spots. The fur is naturalistically rendered, the hair meticulously drawn in a darker colour. There is a white patch on the breast and a beige spiraling line along the spine. The exposed skin inside ears, under the short tail and on the rear, are painted in pink., the hooves are enameled in black. It has been fitted with removable organic antlers at a later date. It stands on a European wooden stand, embellished with gilt commemorative medallions portraying the 18th century French King Louis XVI and the Queen Marie-Antoinette. The provenance labels are from the Baron Alphonse de Rothschild collection. In China, deer (lu) are regarded as very auspicious animals, often associated with the Daoist cult of immortality. In particular the spotted deer, which could allegedly locate and consume the enigmatic immortality fungus (lingzhi). Because of this they were believed to live to a great age, and were therefore emblematic for longevity. Depicted on their own, they could also be symbolic of high rank and wealth; this was because the character for deer sounds like that for ‘officials salary’ (lu), which in China guaranteed a good income and wealth. Chinese spotted deer or Sika deer, had several sub-species in China. Apart from their beautiful spotted summer coats, they also had a distinctive darker stripe down their spine. Widely hunted for their meat, and the supposed medicinal properties of their antlers, they are now a protected species.

complexity of the production, there were no more imperial orders until the 19thcentury. During the reign Tongzhi in 1874, 20 cranes and deer were ordered, for which design drawings are still preserved. Technical complications remained a problem, so all production eventually ceased. Due to these difficulties, deer were also modelled seated, recumbent or on a plinth in the form of rocks. Only a few comparable free-standing porcelain figures of deer appear to be preserved, all in Western collections. The Copeland collection in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem has two standing deer one 18th the other 19th century. A deer on a rock-plinth was in the former Hodroff Collection.

Literature Berlin 1929, nr.1057 p.385 Boacahang 1993, pl. 144 & 145 Boulay 1984, p.296 Cohen & Motley 2008, p.176-177 Howard 1994, p.278 Sargent 1991, nrs. 72 & 104 Welch 2008, p.116-117

Deer China, Tongzhi Period (1862 - 1874) H: 42 cm Provenance: - Private Collection France 2012 - Private Collection Italy 1980’s - Alphons de Rothschild Collection 1827 - 1905 瓷鹿

Generally it was assumed, that like other animal figures, porcelain deer were made specifically for the export market. However, it now known that there were several imperial orders for deer in the 18th and 19th centuries. The imperial records of Emperor Qianlong, registers an order for porcelain cranes and deer in 1742. But, because of the


中國清同治年間(公元1862-1874年) 高:42厘米 來源: 法國私人收藏(2012年) 意大利私人收藏(1980年代) 羅斯柴爾德家族收藏(1827-1905年)




22. carp Chinese buildings were largely constructed in wood, had pitched roofs and ended curving in eaves. All roof components, including the tiles and ornaments, were made of glazed earthenware (liuli), which were generally produced locally in provincial kilns. Initially, only official buildings (palaces, government buildings, and temples) were permitted to use the more elaborate roof decorations. They were placed along the ridges and as finials. Larger amounts of figures, indicated a building of greater importance, yellow glazed figures exclusively reserved for imperial buildings. Ornamentation was thought to help with communication with the celestial beings, therefore facilitating the attraction of good fortune, protection and blessings.

A pair of large pottery carp, in a dark blue-green glaze, with some brighter turquoise on the tail, fins and base. Facing upwards, tails flipped, they rest on circular bases with swirling waves in relief. They have smooth heads with protruding round eyes and open mouths, with barbels attached to its upper lip. The body is covered with smooth raised scales and they have a ridged dorsal fin and tail. According to Chinese belief, carp turn into dragons by leaping the rapids of the Yellow River. Fish leaping from waves are seen a metaphor for transformation and the passage from earth to heaven. This legend is also associated with scholar rising to high office, the mere fish rising to new heights to become a dragon. The carp’s ability to swim upstream against the current, was also likened to the scholar, who arduously perseveres through years of study. But the carp as a roof ornament, specifically expresses the idea of transformation from the earthly world of the roof to the celestial world in the sky above. Fish and water creatures were particularly popular subjects for the ends of the roofs, as the popular belief was that ornamenting roofs with water creatures, would help protect the structure against fire damage.


The British Museum (London) has a roof finial in the form of a carp (nr. 1938,0524.89), as does the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (C.91-1939).

Literature Eng 2015 Harrison-Hall 2001p.516-519 & nr 18:33 Pei 2004, p.36

Carp China, 19th century, ca 1850 H: 95 cm W: 37 cm Provenance: - Private Collection, The Netherlands 2016 - Purchased in Hong Kong in the early 1990’s 陶鯉一對 中國19世紀中葉 高:95厘米,寬:37厘米 來源: 荷蘭私人收藏(2016年) Vanderven東方藝術行(1990年代)


23. dog This large pottery figure of a Mastiff, with a separate head, stands four-square and looks straight ahead. It has a square snout, pointed ears, and deep set round eyes, giving it an alert and friendly expression. The upturned tail, curls over onto its hindquarters. It is wearing a harness, around its chest and neck, which indicates it was a domesticated dog. There are traces of white slip and some encrustation. Dogs (gou), were greatly prized for their hunting abilities, as watchdogs and loyal family companions. In the Han period a variety of dog-breeds are known, including Chow and Mastiffs. Throughout Southern China, Chow dogs were generally reared for food. The Mastiffs, were a suitable breed for guard dogs and hunting - which was one of the favourite Han pastimes. In the latter part of the Han dynasty, dogs started appearing in tombs with greater frequency, which is evidence for their popularity and necessity at the time. This could be due to the fact that in this period, the landed gentry often lived on large farming estates. This required more security, making guard dogs an essential part of country life. It is possible that dogs may have also been associated with high rank and status during the Han dynasty, as there are elegant jade carvings in form of hounds dating from this period. Evidence of the dogs’ role as a sacrificial animal, as well a guide to the deceased and tomb guardian, dates from as early as the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC). Dogs appear to have been buried with their masters in holes underneath coffins, to continue to protect them in the afterlife. They also feature manifold in Han period texts, where dogs are praised for their qualities as protectors and ability to keep away thieves and evil spirits. A similar unglazed dog is in The Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong (nr. HA25). More common green glazed pottery dogs from the same period, are often in a more abstract style. Such dogs are included in the Meiyintang Collection, Geneva; the collection of Victoria & Albert Museum, London ( and the Shandong Provincial Museum.


Literature Asselbergs 1992, nr. 3 Benington & Liu 2005, p.63 nr. 22 Bisscop 2004, p.202 Hong Kong 1993, nr 27 Kerr 1991, p.48 pl.14 Krahl 1994, p.75, nr. 95 & 96 Lau 1991, p.149 nr. 155

Dog China, Eastern Han Dynasty (24-220 AD) H: 43 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 陶狗 中國漢代(公元前206-公元220年) 高:43厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


24. pair of dogs A pair of hollow-moulded recumbent porcelain dogs, enamelled in a glossy aubergine-brown. The inside of the ears, eyes and paws are left uncoloured, but covered in a thin white glaze. These pooches are lying down, with their front and back paws folded under them, their long tail curled round their flanks. Their heads, supported by a thick neck, are turned - one looking to the right the other to the left. The slightly bulging white eyes, have black pupils; their short ears are folded back, exposing the white on the inside. The short snouts have a small nose and a slightly smiling mouths, giving them a friendly expression. The underside has an unglazed rim. The breed of these dogs is difficult to identify, but it appears to be similar to some of the models of Spaniels, which were produced slightly from the mid-18th century. In Chinese porcelain, dogs are most often portrayed seated. Recumbent dogs, like these, seem to appear less frequently; some with an additional candle holder on their back. Models of dogs came in varying sizes and body colours, and were a very popular export product, appealing to exotic tastes of the fashionable upper classes. This trend was probably sparked by wooden (or ceramic) models and printed designs being sent from Europe to be reproduced in China for the Western market. As in Europe, in China purebred dogs were also highly prized. There is abundant evidence of this in Chinese art and literature. The famous Jesuit painter, Giuseppe Castiglioni painted Ten Prized Dogs, for the court of Emperor Qianlong (National Palace Museum, Taipei). These dogs had been presented to the emperor in the Chinese Year of the Dog as tributes; the paintings demonstrate how greatly they were appreciated. Multiple pairs of Chinese porcelain dogs, in various shapes and sizes, are included in the Copeland Collection, now in the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. The Victoria & Albert Museum, London has a pair of recumbent Spaniels (acc. nr.FE.5&A-1978).


Literature Ayers 2016, p.321 nr.737 & 737 Cohen & Motley 2008, p.159 & nr.11.3 Howard & Ayres 1978, p.583 nr.605 Pinto de Matos 2011, p.322 fig. 69 Sargent 1991, p.187 nr. 90 Sargent 2014, p. 191 nr.62

Pair of Dogs China, Kangxi Period (1662 – 1722) H:13 cm W: 17 cm Provenance: Private Collection Brussels, Belgium 素三彩瓷狗一對 中國清康熙年間(公元1662-1722年) 高:13厘米,寬:17厘米 來源:比利時私人收藏


as in europe, in china purebred dogs were also highly prized



25. lion dogs eyes, pug-like face and a short bushy tail. Allegedly, even Pekinese pugs were even bred to look like them. Lion dogs are generally associated with Buddhism, as legend has it that Buddha once entered a temple and instructed his two accompanying lions to wait outside - which they did dutifully. This is said to be the reason that lions are found at the gates of Buddhist temples and entrances of sacred halls - symbols of guardianship and wisdom. A slightly earlier unglazed tile, decorated in relief with a lion dog, is in The Metropolitan Museum, New York, ( The Nanjing Municipal Museum holds a large moulded and sculpted glazed tile, from the Great Monastery of Filial Gratitude (1412-31). Various pottery tiles, glazed and unglazed, are in the collection of the British Museum, London (nr.1983.7-25.1 & 1909.5-12.34). A pair of thick unglazed pottery tiles, with a deep edge. In the middle of each tile is a lion dog, moulded in high relief; one facing left, the other right. Both have open mouths, teeth bared and protruding eyes, under bushy eyebrows. The head and chin have a row of stylized curls. The mane runs down the back, ending in a bushy tail. There are traces of white slip and colour pigments, predominantly black, which highlight the eyes, mouth and hair. There are two holes on the bottom of the tiles, probably for fixing them to a surface with pins. They would have been produced using wooden moulds, then individually finished by hand, before firing. Because lion dogs are associated with Buddhism, it can be assumed they once formed part of the decorative scheme of a temple or tomb complex. As they are unglazed, they were made for indoor use. This type of lion is a very popular motif, often recurring in Chinese art. They are also referred to as a Fo Dogs or Buddhist Lions. They bear little resemblance to real lions, as they are usually stylized as fantastical creatures with exaggerated features. From the Ming Dynasty onwards, they took on a more dog-like appearance, with bulging


Literature Clunas & Harrison-Hall 2014, p. 222-223 Harrison-Hall 2001, p.516-519 & nr.18:20 Vainker 1991, p.163 pl. 120 Watson 2000, p.93

Lion Dogs China, Ming Dynasty ( 1368 – 1644 ) H:21 cm L:17 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 獅子狗瓦当 中國明代(公元1368-1644年) 高:21厘米,長:17厘米 來源:英國私人收藏



Ming Architectural Ceramics In the Ming Dynasty, the use of brick and tiles became much more widespread. Particularly for official buildings, palaces and temples; sturdier structures gradually replacing wooden buildings. However, strict sumptuary laws still laid down restrictions for ‘common people’, who were forbidden to use bright colours and were limited in the volume of edifices. In earlier periods, these more durable and more expensive materials were only used in city walls and gates, temples and subterranean tomb architecture. Ever increasing use of tiles and bricks in architecture, was due to technical developments as well as economic growth. This ensured, that by the Ming Dynasty, there was a thriving industry producing glazed and unglazed wares. Although members of the imperial family were certainly the most prestigious client for architectural pottery, the largest customers by far were the numerous temple complexes all over China.


26. shizi A red lacquered round dish, carved all over, on a circular foot. The five-lobed central panel, has a scene of a Buddhist Lion, frolicking amongst beribboned Treasures. The background is filled with a diaper pattern, each lozenge filled with a flower shape. The rim has the same background and more auspicious antiquities.The underside of the rim is carved with a xiangcao (fragrant grass) scroll. The base is coated with a black lacquer, with irregular cracks. It is possible that this dish was made for the Japanese market, where carved lacquer objects were highly prized as part of the equipment for the tea ceremony. The Buddhist Lion (shizi) is considered an auspicious animal in China. As a motif, they gradually made an interesting metamorphosis, from scary guardians to being portrayed as amusing and playful creatures. The Hundred Treasures (baibao), is a decorative motif actually meaning many treasures. The pattern usually comprises a number items from all or some of the following: Seven treasures of Buddhism, Eight Precious Things, Eight symbols of Daoist Immortals, Four Treasures of the Scholar, archaic bronzes, musical instruments, plants, fruits and flowers. As a pattern it has no real significance, although the individual items can have a meaning. On this dish objects include a scroll (culture), a coin (wealth), lozenges and rhino horn (victory). A comparable dishes of the same shape and period, but with varying decoration, are in the Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Hong Kong and The Mike Healy Collection, Honolulu. The Avery Brundage Collection, San Francisco also has an earlier comparable dish (nr. B69M1).

Literature Bartholomew 2006, p.150 Clifford 1992, p.64 pl.38 Clunas & Harrison-Hall 2014, p.266-267 Honolulu 2003, p.13 & 58 nr.18 Lam 2010, p. 104 nr. 38 Pei 1997, p.100 Ströber 2011, p.74

Shizi China, Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), 15th century Ø: 20.5 cm Provenance: - Private Collection, UK - Spink & Son Ltd, London (label) 獅子漆盤 中國明代(公元1368-1644年) 直徑:20.5厘米 來源:英國私人收藏



27. buddhist lion In China, this type of tri-coloured glaze is known as hupiban (tiger-skin); referred to in the West as Egg & Spinach or Tortoiseshell decoration. The French also sometimes refer to it as ‘harlequin’. This colour combination is in use in China since the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), when it was used on lead-glazed pottery. On Kangxi porcelain, this unusual splashed effect was created by applying stained glazes with a large brush, directly onto the fired biscuit body coated with slip. It was then covered again with a clear glaze and fired again at a lower temperature of about 900°C. Some areas of the body-colour show through the clear glaze, forming a fourth white colour.

A large figure of a Buddhist lion, seated and looking forward. It is thickly potted and decorated all over on the biscuit, with splashed ‘Egg & Spinach’ enamels. The open, almost smiling, mouth reveals a set of sharp teeth and tongue. The broad nose separates the bulging eyes, with black pupils, which look upwards. Corkscrew curls surround the brow, beard and legs. The big paws each have four toes, incised flames covering the upper part of the front legs. The hair on the legs, paws, chest, mane and beard is moulded with incised details. It rests on a later fitted wooden stand. Lions entered Chinese imagery, along with the introduction of Buddhism from India (c. 1st-century AD), often symbolising protection and wisdom. These depictions bear little resemblance to real lions, as they are often styled into fantastical creatures with exaggerated features. During the Ming & Qing Dynasties, lions were also associated with courage and used as an insignia of officers of the first and later the second rank.

A similar modeled lion, was sketched by Gabriel SaintAubain into the margin of a Gaignat sale catalogue in 1769, next to lot 124. A pair of the same lions are in the Copeland Collection, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem. Another pair, in a slightly differing colour palette are in the RA Collection, Brazil ( 664).

Literature Pinto de Matos 2011, p.342 nr.155 Sargent 1991, p.74 nr.28 Williams 1976, p164

Buddhist Lion China, Kangxi Period ( 1662 – 1722 ) H:33,5 cm W: 19 cm Provenance: Private Collection Paris, France 三彩佛獅 中國清康熙年間(公元1662-1722年) 高:33.5厘米,寬:19厘米 來源:法國私人收藏





28. animal jades Three figurative animal carvings, all in a light green translucent jade. Such smaller carvings could serve a number of purposes. They could be used for personal adornment, such as the belt buckle. Some were intended as an emblematic gift or contemplative and symbolic piece, as with the rams. Another function could be as a smooth ‘finger jade’ or ‘fondling piece’, carried round by the literati, to aid meditation, for soothing nerves and its beneficial medicinal properties. The pale jade flat belt buckle depicts a Buddhist Lion, carrying a cub on its back. It has its paw on a brocade ball, holding it by a ribbon with its mouth. Its head is turned back towards the cub. The reverse is smooth and slightly hollowed, with two flat protruding studs for attaching it to a belt. The large lion (dashi) together with a cub (xiaoshi) and a brocade ball, form the rebus taishi shaoshi – may you and your descendants achieve high rank. The small charming carving is of a squirrel, also in pale green jade. The squirrel, also known as a tree shrew, is crouching on a vine with two grapes on one side and a leaf on the other. The bushy tail curls round onto its right flank. This combination was a popular motif in the Ming & Qing dynasties. Like mice, squirrels have great reproductive powers. Grapes also grow abundantly on vines, so these two together stand for the wish for plentiful offspring. The long-horned ram with a lamb, is carved from a fine translucent jade. It crouches with its fore and rear legs drawn under it, its head is turned over its shoulder looking backwards. The lamb has the same posture. Vapour issues from the rams mouth, expanding into a cloud over its flanks and covering the underside of the carving. The features are carved in low relief, the eyes and mouths lightly etched into the stone. The character for ram (yang), is the same as that for the male principle and positive energy (yin / yang). They also represent the breath of light and life, which returns after the winter and heralds the beginning of spring. Rams are also associated with peace, prosperity and filial piety.


Literature Bartholomew 2006, p.79 & 146 Keverne 2010, p.157 fig.72 & p.162 fig.87 Knight, Li & Bartholomew 2007, p.252 nr.258 Krahl & Michaelson 2013, p.228 nr.110 & p.234 nr.117 Rawson & Ayres 1975, p.83 nr.252 & p.84 nr.259 Rinaldi 1993, p.27

Animal Jades China, Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), 18th Century Provenance: Private Collection, UK Buddist Lion & Cub H: 6.5 cm L: 7 cm Squirrel H: 2c m L: 5,5 cm Ram & Cub H: 4 cm L: 9cm 動物形玉器 中國18世紀 長:7厘米,5.5厘米,9.2厘米


29. bai ze A large finely painted ‘Kraak’ dish, in two contrasting shades of underglaze blue. It has an unusual main panel decoration with a mythical creature, in a rocky landscape with a large pine tree. The central eight point bracket-lobed medallion, is surrounded by scale diaper pattern, with a half sun motif at each point. The wide flat, slightly scalloped, rim has eight broad panels outlined in blue; each panel decorated with various auspicious symbols and flower sprays. The alternating narrow panels, have a round medallion hanging from ribbons, framed above and below with a scale diaper pattern. The underside of the rim has the same number of alternating panels, but more lightly and loosely drawn. The base and footrim are unglazed, with some course sand from the kiln in places. Large deep dishes, such as this one, are referred to in the VOC records as lampetschotels (water basins). Rinaldi classifies this type of dish as VII.2 and it is similar in design to those salvaged from the Witte Leeuw, a shipwreck which is dated to 1613. The central panel depicts a bai ze (白泽) – or Beast of the White Marsh – a white auspicious beast, believed to live in the magical Kunlun Mountains. It had the two-horned head of a dragon and the body of a lion, with some scaling on its shoulders and flanks. It was supposedly able to speak the human language and comprehend the nature of all living things. An ancient Chinese legend tells that a bai ze was encountered by the ancient emperor Huangdi, whilst travelling in the East. The creature dictated to him a guide to the forms and habits of all 11,520 types of supernatural creatures in the world, and how to overcome their hauntings and attacks. The emperor had this information written down in a book called the Bai Ze Tú (白泽图). This book no longer exists, but many fragments of it survive in other texts.This beast is often confused with a qilin, which looks very similar. It also has the head of a dragon, as well as its hooves and deer’s body - which is generally scaled all over. The bai ze and qilin can be distinguished by looking at their feet – the first has claws the other hooves.

The Topkapi Saray, Istanbul has a similar dish (nr. TKS 15/3223). Dishes in a similar style, but with a differing main decor, are in the British Museum (nr. OA F.273+), and the Victoria & Albert Museum (nr. 1637-1876), London. Another is in The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam ( AK-NM 13086).

Literature Canepa 2008, p.139 nr.15 Harrison-Hall 2001, p.316 Jörg & van Campen 1997, p.58 nr.40 Krahl & Ayres 1986, p.764 nr.1427 Pijl-Ketel 1982, p.53-54 inv. No.6 Rinaldi 1989, p.96, 100 & pl.92 Stöber 2013, p.194-197 Welch 2008, p.141

Bai Ze China, Wanli Period (1573 – 1620), c.1610-1620 Ø: 50 cm Provenance: Baron en Baroness van Zuylen collection, Belgium, No. 571. 白澤克拉克瓷盤 中國明萬曆年間(公元1573-1620年) 直徑:50.3厘米 來源:比利時路易倫男爵收藏(標簽第571號)



30. dragons An often recurring dragon motif, is a pair of dragons surrounding a ‘flaming pearl’. The origin for this mysterious round object could well have come from the Buddhist iconography, where a similar object appears as a magical wish-granting jewel, symbolising wisdom. In combination with the five-clawed dragons, it then becomes a powerful emblem for imperial wisdom. Dragons depicted amongst waves, emphasise their water-giving powers, symbolising longevity and abundance.

An intricately carved ten-lobed carved lacquer box, decorated with two dragons swirling amongst crested waves, around a flaming pearl. The five-clawed dragons, with their faces turned forwards, have fierce fang-like whiskers. Their long, scaly, reptilian bodies end in a three pronged tail. The straight sides of the box, have a floral diaper pattern. The base and the inside are finished in a smooth black lacquer. The dragon (long) is the creature most associated with China. It permeates its history, folklore, religion and the arts. Ranked first among its mythological beasts, it is associated with goodness, power, and - from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) onwards – is the symbol of the Emperor himself. In contrast to Western dragons, the Chinese dragon is a good-natured creature; said to control the earth and the heavens, from which the rain fell to nourish the crops. From the earliest times in China, dragons were depicted on objects. Portrayed in all shapes and sizes, they generally have a serpentine body, clawed feet and stag-like horns. From the Ming Dynasty onwards, the dragon emblem - particularly with five claws - is reserved for the use of the Emperor and his immediate family.


Mythological beasts, writhing amongst churning waves, appears to be a typical Qianlong period (1736-1795) device on lacquer. The fine and detailed carving of the waves and dragons, also date the box to this period. Two comparable inscribed ‘treasure boxes’ with a Qianlong reign mark both with a single dragon - are in the Chao Collection, Hong Kong and the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh (nr 1981.388). A pair of Qianlong mark & period boxes, with three five-claw dragons around a flaming pearl, are in the Royal Collection, UK (RCIN 10816.1-2ab).

Literature Ayers 2016, p.852 nr.1959 & 1960 Bartholomew 2006, 2006, p.43 Chen 2010, p.136 nr.44 Clifford 1992, p.131 nr.105 Shih-chang & Wilkinson 1998, p.55 nr.30 Wu & Wu 1971, nr.42

Dragons China, 18th Century D:10 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 雙龍漆盒 中國18世紀 直徑:10厘米 來源:英國私人收藏


Chinese Lacquer Lacquer is produced from the resin of a lac tree (rhus verniciflua), commonly found in central and southern China. This amazing material, hardens when exposed to oxygen and becomes a natural plastic, that is resistant to water and can withstand heat and certain acids. It is naturally clear, but pigments give it the desired colour. The typical red lacquer was made using cinnabar, a mineral that appears near volcanoes or hot springs. Rich in mercury it produces the deep red tint. The production of a lacquered object, is a fascinating and time consuming process. In the case of carved lacquer, multiple layers (often thirty or thirty-five, but can be up to two hundred) are applied onto a wooden substructure. Each layer would have to dry before a new one was applied, resulting in a process which could take almost half a year to prepare – some larger pieces could take years.



31. phoenix The Chinese phoenix, actually embodies two birds - feng the male and huang is the female bird. The male is the yang and represents the solar cycle and summer, whereas the female is the yin and the lunar cycle. As a symbol the phoenix represents the warmth of the sun, the yang principles of brightness, light and warmth. When the king of birds - phoenix (feng) - is paired with the king of flowers the peony (mudan), it forms a very auspicious design (fengxi mudan), which heralds great blessings and prosperity. A comparable jade phoenix is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (nr. 0.5-1951). A jade vase with a similar phoenix and peonies is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (,b).

Literature A finely carved figure of a phoenix standing on rockwork, holding a spray of flowering peonies in its beak. It is intricately worked from a light green jade, with some russet inclusions. It stands, looking backwards, with one foot lifted onto a rock. The finely etched, long elegant tail feathers, sweep down over the left foot. The Phoenix (feng huang), is the emperor of all birds and an important creature in Chinese mythology. It ranks second of the four great mythological animals – dragon being the first, qilin third and tortoise fourth. It is supposed to only appear in times of peace and prosperity, therefore symbolizing good luck, abundance and longevity. Synonymous with virtue, duty, correct behaviour, humility and reliability, it is also the fitting symbol for the Empress - often ornamenting her crown and clothing.

Bartholomew 2006, p.54 & 160 Knight, Li & Bartholomew 2007, p70 nr.90 & p.268 nr.290 Lin 2009, p.134

Phoenix China, 18th Century H:13,6 cm Provenance: Private Collection, UK 玉鳳 中國18世紀 高:13.6厘米 來源:英國私人收藏





Annemie Bonneux (ed.), De Wereld Volgens de Han, Exhibition Catalogue, Antwerp, 2006 BOULAY 1963


Roger Asselbergs (photography), Chinese Ceramics and Oriental Works of Art Selected from a European Collection, Louvain-Le-Neuve / Paris, 1992 AVITABILE 1981

Gunhild Avitabile, Die Ware aus dem Taufelsland: Chinesische und Japanische Cloisonné- und Champlevé- Arbeiten von 1400 bis 1900, Frankfurt am Main, 1981 AYERS 1985

John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics; The Koger Collection, London, 1985

Anthony du Boulay, Chinese Porcelain, Pleasures and Treasures, London, 1963 BOULAY 1984

Anthony du Boulay, Christie’s Pictorial History of Chinese Ceramics, Oxford, 1984 BOWER 2002

Virginia Bower, From Court to Caravan: Chinese Tomb Sculptures from the Collection of Anthony M. Solomon, Exhibition Catalogue Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard, 2002 BUTLER 2008

John Ayres, Chinese & Japanese Works of Art in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, London, 2016

Michael Butler, Late Ming: Chinese Porcelains from the Butler Collections, Exhibition Catalogue Musée National d’Histoire et dÁrt Luxembourg, Luxemburg, 2008



Terese T. Bartholomew Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, San Francisco, 2006

Schuyler Camman, “Some Strange Ming Beasts” Oriental Art NS 2.3, 1956



Susan Benington & Cary Liu, Providing for the Afterlife: “Brilliant Artefacts” From Shadong, Exhibition Catalogue The China Institute, New York, 2005

Teresa Canepa & van der Pijl-Ketel, Kraak Porcelain: The Rise of Global Trade in the late 16th and early 17th century, Exhibition Catalogue Jorge Welsh, London, 2008



Chinesische Kunst: Veranstaltet vond er Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst und der Preukischen Akademie der Künste, Exhibition Catalogue, Berlin, 1929

Suasan Caroselli , The Quest for Eternity: Chinese Ceramic Sculptures From the People’s Republic of China, London, 1987

AYERS 2016

CHEN 2010 BISSCOP 2004

Nicole de Bisschop, Het Rijk van de Draak: Meesterwerken uit het Henan Museum in China, Exhibition Catalogue Kunsthal Sint-Pietersabdij, Gent 2002 BISSCOP 2007

Nicole de Bischop, Onder een Dak in China, Exhibition Catalogue Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst & Geschiedenis, Brussels, 2007

Lihua Chen, Many Splendors: Yuan, Ming and Qing Lacquerware from the Chao Collection, Beijing, 2010 CHEN 2016

Fang Chen, A Fur Headdress for Women in Sixteenth-Century China, Costume vol. 50, nr.1 p.3-19, 2016 CHOI 2007

Victor Choi, Horses for Eternity: Terracotta Dynastic Tomb Equestrian Sculpture in Dynastic China, Hong Kong, 2007


Geng Boachang, Ming Qing ciqi jianding [Appraisal of Ming and Qing porcelain], Hong Kong, 1993


Gao Chunming, Chinese Dress & Adornment through the ages, The Art of Classic Fashion, United Kingdom, 2010.

BODA 1997

Yang Boda, Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages – Connoisseurship of Chinese Jades: vol. 12 Qing Dynasty, Hong Kong,1997


Derek Clifford, Chinese Carved Lacquer, London, 1992 CLUNAS 1987

Craig Clunas, Chinese Export Art and Design, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1987 92



Craig Clunas & Jessica Harrison-Hall (eds), Ming: 50 years that Changed China, Exhibition Catalogue the British Museum, London, 2014

David S. Howard & John Ayers, China for the West; Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection - Volume I. London / New York, 1978



Michael Cohen & William Motley, Mandarin and Menagerie: Chinese and Japanese Export Ceramic Figures, London, 2008

David S.Howard, The Choice of the Private Trader; The Private Market in Chinese Export Porcelain illustrated from the Hodroff Collection, London, 1994


Die Karawane Zieht Weiter; auf der Sedenstrasse - Grabkeramiek der Tang-Dynastie, Exhibition Catalogue Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Cologne, 2008

HUO 2008

Jiena Huo, Fire and Earth : Early Chinese Ceramics (3500BC1400 AD) in the Museum of East Asian Art, Exhibition Catalogue, Cologne, 2008

DERUI 2011

Tan Derui & Lian Haiping, The Ancient Chinese Casting Techniques, China Foundry, vol 8 nr. 1, 2011, p.127-136. DONNELLY 1969


Robert Jacobson, Celestial Horses & Long Sleeve Dancers: The David W. Dewey Collection of Ancient Chinese Tomb Sculpture, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota, 2013

P.J. Donnelly, Blanc de Chine, New York 1969 JENKINS 2005

Wolfram Eberhard, A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought, London, 1988

Donald Jenkins, Mysterious Spirits Strange Beasts Earthly Delights; Early Chinese Art from the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Collection, Portland, Oregon, 2005

ENG 2015


Clarence Eng, Colours & Contrast: Ceramic Traditions in Chinese Architecture, Leiden, 2015

R. Soame Jenyns & W. Watson, Chinese Art: Gold, Silver, Later Bronzes, Cloisonné Cantonese Enamel, Lacquer, Furniture, Wood, Oxford, 1980



Angus Forsyth & Brian, McElney, Jades form China, The Museum of East Asian Art, Bath, 1994



Christiaan J.A. Jörg & Jan van Campen, Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Amsterdam / London 1997

Catalogue Guangxi Ethnic Culture Antiques Collection, Guangxi, 2006



Jessica Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001

Porzellan aus China und Japan; Die Porzellangalerie der Landgrafen von Hessen-Kassel, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel, 1990 KENTUCKY 2000

Robert E. Harrist (ed.) & Virginia Bower, Power and Virtue: The Horse in Chinese Art, China Institute, New York, 1997

Imperial China: The Art of the Horse in Chinese History, Exhibition Catalogue The Kentucky Horse Park & International Museum of the Horse, 2000


KERR 1991

Stephen Hartog, Pronken met Oosters Porselein, Zwolle, 1990

Rose Kerr, Chinese Art and Design: The T.T, Tsui Gallery of Chinese Art, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1991



The Tsui Museum of Art, Chinese Ceramics I: Neolithic to Liao, CatalogueTsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1993

KERR 2015

Rose Kerr, Asian Ceramics in the Hallwyl Collection, catalogue Hallwylska Museet, Stockholm, 2015


Masterpieces of Chinese Lacquer, From the Mike Healy Collection, Exhibition Catalogue Honolulu Academy of Arts Honolulu, 2003

KERR 2016

Rose Kerr, The Countess and her Chinese Lions, Vormen uit Vuur 232, 2016. 3, pp.20-27




Roger Keverne, Jade, London, 2010

Joseph Needham & Donald Wagner, Science & Civilisation in China Vol 5 Chemistry and Chemical Technology Part II: Ferrous Metallurgy, Cambridge, 2008


Regina Krahl, R. & John Ayers, Chinese Ceramics in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul; A complete catalogue, part II:Yuan & Ming Dynasty Porcelains & part III: Qing Dynasty Porcelains. London, 1986


China : Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD, Exhibition Catalogue The Metropolitan Museum, New York, 2005

KRAHL 1994


Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection vol 1&2, London, 1994

Willow Weilan Hai (et al), Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks from Six Dynasties China 3rd-6th Century, Exhibition catalogue China Institute, New York 2016

KRAHL 2006

Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection: VolumeThree (1 & 2), London, 2006


Ann Paludan, Chinese Sculpture: A Great Tradition, Chicago, 2006


Regina Krahl, Carol Michaelson & Teng Shu-P’Ing, The Woolf Collection of Jade, Exhibition catalogue Sotheby’s, London, 2013

PARIS 1997

He Li, Terese Tse Bartholomew, Michael Knight, Jades chinois: Pierres d’immortalité, Exhibition Catalogue Musée Cernuschi, Paris, 1997


Elfriede Regina Krauer, The Camel’s Load in Life & Death, Zurich, 1998 KNIGHT, LI & BARTHOLOMEW 2007

Michael Knight, He Li & Terese Bartholomew, Later Chinese Jades, Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century, from the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, San Francisco, 2007

PARIS 2014

Eric Lefebre & Huei-Chung Tsao, Spledeurs des Han: Essors de L’Empire Céleste, Exhibition Catalogue Musée Guimet, Paris 2014, p.76 & 77 PEI 1997

Fang Jing Pei, Treasures of the Chinese Scholar, New York / Tokyo, 1997

LAM 2010

Peter Y.K. Lam (ed.), Layered Beauty, The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Hong Kong, 2010

PEI 2004

Fang Jing Pei, Symbols and Rebuses in Chinese Art. Figures, Bugs, Beasts, and Flowers, Berkeley, 2004

LAU 1991 (T0015)

Aileen Lau (ed.), Spirit of Han, Singapore, 1991


LIN 2009

C.L. van der Pijl Ketel, The Ceramic Load of the Witte Leeuw, Exhibition Catalogue The Rjksmuseum Amsterdam, 1982

James C. S. Lin, The Immortal Stone; Chinese jades from the Neolithic Period to the Twentieth Century, London, 2009


LIU 1991

Maria Pinto de Matos, The RA Collection of Chinese Ceramic : A Collector’s Vision, London, 2011

Liu Liang-yu, A Survey of Chinese Ceramic: Early Wares: PreHostoric to Tenth Century, Taipei 1991



Béatrice Quette (ed) et al, Cloisonné, Chinese Enamels from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties, New York, 2011

Li Zhiyan, Virginia L. Bower, He Li, Chinese Ceramics; from the Paleolithic Period through the Qing Dynasty, New Haven/ London, 2010



Sabrina Rastelli (et al), China at the Court of the Emperors; Unknown Masterpieces from Han Tradition to Tang Elegance (25-907), Exhibition Catalogue Palazzo Strozzi, 2008.

D.F Lunsingh Scheurleer, The Frits van der Lugt Collection of Chinese Porcelains, Lochem, 1981


MATER 2011

B. Mater, De Gouden Eeuw van China: De Tang Dynastie (618907AD), Exhibition Catalogue Drents Museum, Assen, 2011


Evelyn Rawski & Jessica Rawson (eds), China The Three Emperors 1662-1795, Exhibition Catalogue Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2005



Jessica Rawson & John Ayres, Chinese Jades Throughout the Ages, Exhibition Catalogue Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1975

The Smiling Kingdom: The Terracotta Warriors of Han Yang Ling, Exhibition Catalogue National Museum of History Taipei, 2009



Jessica Rawson, Chinese Jade: From the Neolithic to the Qing, London, 1995

Robert Thorpe, Son of Heaven: Imperial Art of China, Seattle, 1988



Jessica Rawson, The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, London, 2007

Gerard Tsang & Hugh Moss, Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Hong Kong, 1986



Maura Rinaldi, Kraak Porcelain: A Moment in the History of Trade, London 1989

S.J. Vainker, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain: From Pre-history to the Present, London 1991



Maura Rinaldi, Ceramics in Scholarly Taste, Exhibition Catalogue, Southeast Asian Ceramics Society, Singapore, 1993

William Watson, The Arts of China: 900-1620, Yale, 2000


William R. Sargent, The Copeland Collection, Chinese and Japanese Ceramic Figures; The Peabody Museum of Salem, 1991


Patricia Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, North Clarendon, 2008 WILLIAMS 1976

C.A.S. Williams, Outlines of Chinese Symbolism & Art Motives, New York, 1976


William R. Sargent, Chinese Porcelain in the Conde Collection; Mexico, 2014

WU & WU 1971


Yu-chang Wu, & Feng-Pei Wu, Fu-tsung Chiang, (Introduction), Masterpieces of Chinese Carved Lacquer Ware in the National Palace Museum; Taipei, 1971

Clarence Shangraw (et al), The Tsui Museum of Art Chinese Ceramics I: Neolithic to Liao, Hong Kong, 1993

WU 2014


Ruonming Wu, The Origins of Kraak Porcelain in the Late Ming Dynasty, Heidelberg, 2014

Colin Sheaf and Richard Kilburn, The Hatcher Porcelain Cargoes, The Complete Record, London, 1988

XU & LI 2016

Hu Shih-chang & Jane Wilkinson, Chinese Lacquer, Edinburgh, 1998

Jay Xu & He Li (eds), Emperors’ Treasures: Chinese Art from the National Palace Museum, Taipei. Masterworks from the Song, Yuan, Ming & Qing Dynasties, Exhibition Catalogue Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2016



Jerome Silbergeld & Eugene Y. Wang, The Zoomorphic Imagination in Chinese Art and Culture, Honolulu, 2016

Wang Zhongshu, Han Civilization, Yale, 1982



Eva Ströber, Symbols on Chinese Porcelain; 10,000 Times Happiness, Keramiekmuseum Princessehof , Leeuwarden, 2011 STÖBER 2013

Eva Ströber, Ming: Porcelain for a Globalized Trade, Leeuwarden/ Stuttgart, 2013



vanderven oriental art floris van der ven nachtega alsla antje 1 5211 le ’s-hertogenbosch the netherlands tel: 0031 (0)73 614 62 51 editor, text & research nynke van der ven-van wijnga arden ma essay rose kerr translation min chen phd dating, sourcing & pricing floris van der ven conservation & logistics floris bouwman production assistant nynke martens photography leo hol , amsterdam concept & design oranje boven, ’s-hertogenbosch print deckers snoeck nv, gent paper cover: curious metallics mandarin 300 gr/m 2 fly-leaf & endpaper: curious translucents nude 100 gr/m 2 inside: phoenix motion xenon 150 gr/m 2 typefaces blair itc & trinité chinese: adobe kaiti std © 2017 vanderven oriental art, the netherlands

Beasts & Creatures 2017  
Beasts & Creatures 2017