Asian Antiques from China, Japan & Korea

A pale greenish-white carving of a mythical beast & cub

A pale greenish-white carving of a mythical beast & cub

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Hardstones: Pre 1700: Item # 858235

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Ming dynasty, 16th century
Length: 3 7/8 in (9.8 cm)
Height: 1 ¼ in (3.1 cm)

This forcefully carved nephrite beast astounds with its almost saurian head, and its attributes may best fit those of the lesser known xiezhai, a creature described as having a dog-like head, a mane over the shoulders and the body, the paws and tail of a Buddhist lion. Flames often surround the porcelain representations of this beast, and it is common to see the same flames along the hocks, as is the case here. Also typical is the knobby spine that resembles that of the qilin. This fierce creature was able to distinguish between good and evil, between lies and truths; evil-doers and liars faced being devoured by the xiezhai.

This is a rare subject in jade carving, and even rarer to see a xiezhai cub. For a description of this beast and its attributes, see Michael Buttler et al, Treasures from an Unknown Reign, Shunzhi Porcelain, 1644–1661 (Alexandria, Virginia: 2002), pp. 104-105.

Published: Asiantiques, Chinese Works of Art (2009), cat. no. 9

Ref. 858235