A Chinese jade mythical animal in a crouching position with single horn, its head turned back, holding a flowering peony branch in its mouth, with detailed hairwork to the tail and mane and flames at the haunches, the stone pale celadon with slight russet markings.

2 7⁄8 inches, 7.3 cm long.

Ming dynasty, 16th/17th century.


Available on request.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • From the collection of Dr Isaac Newton. It was a family belief that Dr Isaac Newton was a descendant of the great British scientist of the same name. He was a director of Medical Services in Hong Kong, where his interest in jade carvings began.
  • Included by Bluett & Sons, in their exhibition of Dr Newton’s Zoo, A Study of post-Archaic Small Jade Carvings, 1981, no. 39, pp. 26/7, where the author notes, ‘The flattened feet and static poise are still in the Ming tradition. The piece may belong to the end of that period.’
  • Sold by Sotheby’s London in their auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 16th May 2012, lot 4.
  • Published by Marchant in their 90th Anniversary exhibition, Ninety Jades for 90 years, 2015, no. 54, p. 103.
  • A similar carving, from the Zhi Rou Zhai collection, is illustrated by Sydney Fung & Yeung Chun-tong in Exquisite Jade Carving, an exhibition presented by the University and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, 1996, no. 114, p. 138, and is also illustrated by Gerard Tsang in Chinese Jade Animals, an exhibition presented by the Urban Council Hong Kong and Organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1996, no. 148, pp. 162/3; a further related carving, where the animal holds a lingzhi branch in its mouth, is illustrated by Mei Ninghua & Tao Xincheng in Gems of Beijing Cultural Relics Series, Jades, no. 220, p. 189; another similar recumbent animal is illustrated by Robert P. Youngman in The Youngman Collection, Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Qing, no. 158, p. 159.