M2942b

Chinese jade baluster vase and cover of flattened form, with two open-work archaic-style dragon handles, carved on the body in high relief with a three-clawed dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl amongst ruyi-head clouds, above crested waves with an open-winged bat in flight, the reverse with a double gourd issuing ruyi-clouds above waves, the corners with stylised rope, one with a hanging basket of peaches beneath lotus leaves on the rim and cover and a lotus pod-form finial, the stone pale celadon, mottled and russet.

9 ⅞ inches, 25.2 cm high.

Early Ming dynasty, 15th/16th century.

Carved wood stand.

• Published by Marchant in their 90th Anniversary Exhibition of Ninety Jades for 90 Years, 2015, no. 72, p. 132-133.

• From a European private collection.

• Purchased from John Sparks, 1st December 1954.

• A Yuan dynasty vase of similar material, also carved with a dragon, is illustrated by Yun Xi Zheng in The Collection of Jades in the Tianjin City Art Museum, pl. 181.

• A censer carved with a three-clawed dragon, in the Qing Court collection, is illustrated by Yang Xin in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Jadeware (I), no. 207, p. 196.

• A Qing imperial large globular vase, with a three-clawed dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl above waves, is illustrated by Xu Xiao Dong in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum, Jade, Vol. 10, Qing Dynasty, Gu Gong Inventory no. Gu 103848, no. 28, p. 55.

• The dragon, long, is ranked first among mythical beasts and is a symbol of the emperor, representing high rank and power. The earliest dragons were represented with two and three claws. A descending bat, fu, forms the rebus fucong tianjiang, ‘Blessing descending from heaven’. The gourd, hulu, is a symbol of fertility and good fortune, here emitting ruyi-head clouds, a wishgranting motif.

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