Reclining horse, ma, the ears folded back, with detailed hairwork to its mane and tail, looking back at a monkey, hou, climbing on its hind quarters, its hands on the horse’s nose, the monkey with a furrowed brow and detailed hairwork to its spine, the stone mottled dark and light grey.
3 ¼ inches, 8.3 cm long.
Qianlong/Jiaqing, circa 1780-1820.
• From an important French private collection.
• A brown horse and pale celadon monkey group, formerly in the collection of Julius Lowenstein, was included by Marchant in their 70th anniversary exhibition of Post-Archaic Chinese Jades, 1995, no. 92, p. 66; another, from the collection of Dr. Ip Yee, is illustrated by Ip Yee in Chinese Jade Carving, an exhibition jointly presented by the Urban Council Hong Kong and the Min Chiu Society, organised by the Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1983, no. 152, pp. 164/5.
• The subject of a horse and monkey forms the rebus ma shang feng hou, ‘May you immediately be conferred to the rank of marquis, or ‘May you immediately be appointed to a high ranking position’, the monkey, hou, is a pun for ‘marquis’. The act of sitting on top of a horse, mashang, is a pun for ‘immediately’. Such a piece would have been given to an aspiring official.
• According to S. A. S. Williams in Outlines of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives, p. 220, quoting a Ming treatise, the presence of monkeys aided the wellbeing of horses.