A Large and Rare Pale Celadon Jade 'Elephant' Ruyi Sceptre, 18th Century
2 x 3 1/2 x 14 3/4 in, 5.1 x 8.9 x 37.5 cm
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000 CAD
Sold for: $181,250
P. C. Lu & Sons Ltd, The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong
Acquired from the above by the present Private Collection, Winnipeg, February 2, 1982
Exquisitely carved and impressive in size with a rounded head carved in low relief a large elephant covered in dripping jewelry, its body draped in a rectangular cloud-patterned tapestry and with a large ribboned base on the back, all around the pachyderm are auspicious items including a longevity bat, coins and peaches, the S-curved shaft of thick proportions and carved with archaistic patterns to the end, the base with two drills holes to secure a tassel, overall the jade of an even pale celadon with white inclusions throughout. Wood stand and glass display case.
Although initially bearing ritual value from as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 AD), the ruyi, or “wish granting” sceptre has evolved during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to become a popular symbol of auspiciousness and prestige. In the 18th Century ruyi sceptres were constructed of various materials including bamboo, zitan wood, and cloisonné enamel. However, jade sceptres had the highest status owing to the intrinsic value of the material and its length of time to carve. As a result, jade ruyi sceptres were often offered to the Imperial and aristocratic families on significant occasions such as birthday milestones, weddings, promotions and retirements, embodying the good wishes implied by the design and precious material.
The present lot is an exemplary jade ruyi sceptre and shows the superb craftsmanship of the 18th Century. It comes from a single large piece of pale celadon jade and is extremely well-carved and polished. The sceptre’s head bears an attractive design of an elephant (xiang) covered in caparison embroidered with celestial mountains in waves supporting an antique vase (ping). The words xiang and ping represent the Chinese saying ‘tai ping you xiang’ (‘sign of peace and tranquility’).
This auspicious sceptre would have been a gift to a high-ranking official or noble who exudes grace, wisdom and sound-judgement. It would have been both a status-defining object and a tactile piece for enjoyment.
All prices are in Canadian Dollars
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