Chinese large jade libation vessel carved in the form of a peach stone with naturalistic grooved underside, the flat everted rim carved in relief with a twenty-character inscription and date, the interior plain.

The stone mottled brown with natural markings.

7 inches, 17.8 cm long; 4 7/8 inches, 12.3 cm wide.

Ming dynasty, 15th/16th century.

Wood stand.


Good, probably polished at the end.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • Sold by Louis Joseph, 28 Knightsbridge, London, 1960-1985, by repute.
  • The inscription reads, Xiwangmu ci Han Wudi Xuanhe Dian, gengzi nian jiashen yue dingyou ri ji, “Xiwangmu bestowed a peach upon the Emperor Wudi of the Han dynasty, Xuanhe Hall, recorded on the cyclical day of dingyou, jiashen month, gengzi year”.
  • The inscription clearly refers to the story of the peach that Xiwangmu gave to the Emperor Wudi. That peach stone or seed was reputed to have been rediscovered by the Hongwu Emperor while clearing a Yuan Dynasty storehouse. The inscription can therefore be understood to be a reference to the original peach stone or seed.
  • It is interesting to note that although the cyclical date is probably referring to the Han dynasty, the year, month and day could be calculated as 24th August 1480 or 9th August 1540. Therefore, this piece could have been made in one of those years.
  • No other jade peach stone appears recorded, however, three ceramic examples are known; a partially-glazed yixing example bearing a poem on a flat rim was sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong in their auction of I-Hsing Wares, Property from a Private Collection, 24th May 1978, lot 350, pp. 54/5; another is in the Percival David Foundation, British Museum, also with a poem on the flat rim, collection no. PDF,A.84; another is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, collection no. Guci 017845N.
  • The peach, tao, is a symbol of longevity and is associated with Shoulao, the god of longevity. Peach trees were said to have grown in the palace gardens of Xiwangmu and to only blossom once every three thousand years and bear the fruits of immortality.