A black and white jade carving of a water buffalo and a qilin, 18th-19th century. Sold for HK$ 350,000 (€36,729). Photo Bonhams.
Unusually and cleverly formed from a single stone as a white qilin perched upon a black crouching buffalo, the bi-horned and scaly mythical beast resting its hooves on cloud scrolls floating atop the bovine carved with its head turned round to the left towards the qilin, the powerful legs tucked underneath the slightly raised body, wood stand. 4.1cm (1 5/8in) wide (2).
Provenance: Somerset de Chair (1911-1995)
It is very unusual to see the combination of a buffalo and a mythical beast together, representing both the natural and the mythical animal world. A related example of buffalo and qilin carved in white jade is in the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath: see A.Forsyth and B.McElney, Jades from China, Hong Kong, 1994, no.325.
The present lot also makes particularly skilled use of the variations between the black and white areas of the stone. This playful style, frequently used to join two separate elements in one more complex design, can also be seen in three small jade pieces dated respectively to the Qing dynasty, and the 18th/19th century, in the Seattle Museum, illustrated by J.C.Y.Watt, Chinese Jades from the Collection of the Seattle Museum, Seattle, 1989, p.87, nos.65a-c.
Bonhams. IMPORTANT JADE CARVINGS FROM THE SOMERSET DE CHAIR COLLECTION, 27 Nov 2014 14:00 HKT – HONG KONG, ADMIRALTY