Asian Art - 8th November 2016 - 10:00am
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Lot 218

An exceptional rhinoceros horn Libation Cup

Hammer Price £200,000

An exceptional rhinoceros horn Libation Cup,

late Ming, c.1600, the unusually-large body finely carved with a literatus-idealised landscape of pine and parasol trees with gnarled and warty trunks, two forming the handle, under vast, slab-sided, overhanging rocks beside a lake, its surface disrupted by almond-shaped wave diaper, three literati are playing qi on one side while a boy tends the brazier, the wide mouth with cloud-engraved rim enclosing a superbly carved, high-relief chilong eyeing the tail end of a dragon, its head, shoulders and belly emerging from clouds at the opposite end, their hair meticulously and crisply incised, the material ranging in colour from honey, through pale amber to bronze and with a high polish,

19cm wide

14cm high

476.8g, and

a contemporary, and probably original, hardwood stand,

pierced and carved as high rocks growing with pine and lingzhi, one side as a torrent, the current resembling a chilong bifid tail (2)


Where it appears, wave-carving on materials such as rhinoceros horn, wood, cinnabar lacquer, bamboo, metals and jade, is formed by each wave element as an elongated ovoid pointed at the ends. Over the centuries, they morphed until, by the 18th century, they were rhomboids, finally becoming part of concentric circles, most obviously in Japanese diaper, particularly textiles. For an early lacquer example, (dated to 16th century) see Spink & Sons Ltd., 'The Minor Arts of China IV', 1989, no.2. The same exhibition included a not dissimilar cup, although later (17th century) and not so well executed, no. 35.


This lot is subject to CITES regulations when exporting outside the EU. Non-EU potential purchasers should be aware that, under EU guidance issued March 2012, it is possible that you may not be able to obtain a CITES re-export permit for this lot.


明末约1600年 犀角雕山水松下对弈图杯 连木底座




Estimate: £30,000 - £50,000

Close Condition Report

A 1.5cm split from mouth where material has parted, and a 0.5cm triangular chip to rim, both partially disguised by contemporary carving.

A few tiny hair cracks and minute chips as usual.

Two small chips to base of wood stand.

Private English collection.


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