The Bodhisattva Collection

A Large Carved Ivory Elephant Bridge, 19th Century


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Ivory: Pre 1900: Item # 965391
The Bodhisattva Collection
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From our Chinese Monochrome Collection, a large carved ivory elephant bridge, late 19th century, depicting a procession of eight individual elephants of graduating size, nicely carved from a single tusk. The elephants are well-rendered and the ivory has a good buttery patina somewhat better than the photos reflect.

Interestingly, the artist's decision to carve eight elephants here is no accident: Those familiar with Chinese mythologies and cultural superstitions will immediately recognize that the number "8" has auspicious significance and represents good karma all across Chinese culture. For instance, there are eight immortals...the highly revered lotus flower has eight petals...etc etc etc. Wikipedia also provides some very interesting trivia regarding the number 8 in modern Chinese culture. Apparently, the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing were officially launched on 8/08/08, at 8 minutes and 8 seconds past 8 pm local time, clearly not a coincidence....

Size and Condition: The tusk is a good size at 18 inches long end to end. There is a shallow hairline running partially through the last two smaller elephants, and while not significant, it actually serves to prove that the elephants are all carved in situ "in the round" and are not separate "add-ons." Additionally, two of the elephants in the middle have detached at the feet and have been neatly re-stuck, and one smaller elephant has had its tusk detached and also re-stuck. These condition issues are captured in the photographs and are not especially significant, although the detached tusk could be re-attached more cleanly by a competent professional if the new owner so desires. Personally we wouldn't bother with it. Overall these condition issues probably take on more life to them in written description than they actually take on in actual appearance, but we always mention all flaws for complete accuracy. Overall it's a large and very appealing 19th century ivory at an attractive price.