Openwork finial in the form of a standing deer with a crane on its back, each holding in their mouths the branch of a fruiting peach, above two branches of lingzhi fungus, all on a flowerhead base with relief petals, with detailed hairwork to the eyebrows and tail of the deer, and feathers on the wings and tail of the bird, the deer’s body with incised stars, the stone pale celadon with slight russet markings.

2 1⁄2 inches, 6.3 cm high.
Jin/Yuan Dynasty, 13th/14th century.

• From a French private collection.

• Two Song dynasty deer, from the Shanghai Museum Collection, in a similar pose, each with a branch in its mouth, are illustrated by Zhang Wei in Zhong Guo Gu Dai Yu Qi, ‘Chinese Ancient Jade’, no. 161/2, p. 200; another, in the Qing Court Collection, with a deer and young on a flower-form flat base, is illustrated by Yang Xin in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Jadeware (I), no. 199, p. 189.

• The deer, crane, peach and lingzhi are all symbols of longevity. The crane and peach form the rebus heshou yannian ‘May the crane and peach extend your years’. The deer and crane alone form the rebus liuhe, which is a reference that spring has come to every corner of the universe. The deer and crane together with the peach and lingzhi can also mean a husband and wife enjoying longevity together.

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