Pair of Imperial Bronze Dragon Seals: Qianlong Marks and Period
This large pair of dragon handled bronze seals date from the period of Qianlong (1735-1795), emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in China.
The rectangular base measures 8 ½ inches by 7 ¼ inches (21.5 cm x 19.5 cm). The dragon handle stands up about 3 inches tall (8 cm.).
The top portions of the seals are covered with chiseled and engraved patterns of dragons and swirling lines representing the ocean or the sky. Standing on top of all this is the dragon handle.
The bottom of the seals are covered in archaic old Chinese pictogram script (see closeup photos). They also include traditional Chinese characters in one corner which are easily interpreted as Qianlong Reign Marks.
Some folks thought these might be paperweights because of their rather large size, compared to most seals of either bronze or jade. A recent article in the Jakarta Post referred to a very similar bronze seal as a “casted paperweight from the Qianlong Period”. See link below:
( http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/04/04/scholar-objects-undervalued-small-treasures.html )
These bronzes may have served double duty, with an original purpose yet to be determined by deciphering the archaic script and the possibility of also having been used as massive scroll weights.
The Emperor Qianlong had a serious interest in painting and was known to dabble in it himself on occasion. Some scrolls are exceptionally long and might have required a substantial scroll weight to keep them open for viewing (or possible two or more to hold the whole long thing open in the privacy of one's palace).
On April 4, 2010 , one identical bronze seal/scroll weight was sold at auction in China for the amount of RMB 651,200. (about $108,000.00 US ). The auction estimate had originally been 600,000-800,000 RMB (about $100,000-$130,000) for one single bronze seal.
The pair of bronze seals or scroll weights or “paperweights” are both in excellent condition. The buyer will not be disappointed.
They were purchased about 30 years ago in Southern California.
NOTE: Although the photos below make the the bronzes appear to be of different sizes , only the photos are of different sizes, not the bronzes themselves.
ADDITIONAL NOTE: THERE ARE A FEW VERY TINY SPOTS OF VERDIGRIS ON ONE OF THE SEALS . THIS IS NOT UNUSUAL FOR A BRONZE ITEM THAT IS OVER 200 YEARS OLD. IT IS REALLY NOT WORTH MENTIONING BUT WE ALWAYS LIKE TO HAVE FULL DISCLOSURE SO THERE ARE NO SURPRISES FOR THE BUYER.
This Chinese ceramic or porcelain charger measures 15-15.25 inches in diameter. It measures about 2.5 inches in depth.
It dates to the Qing Dynasty in China (1644-1911).
It is hand painted in the Famille Rose palette and design.
It has a black ground border with green scrolling leaves and foliage and rose to pink colored flowers.
The level of detail and the quality of the painting is exceptional.
It is in outstanding condition with no repairs or restoration. It has an amazing clear ring and there are no hidden or hairline cracks.
NOTE: It does have a small number of tiny flake losses to the painting. They are not significant and can be seen in the photographs- if you look closely. They do not detract from it's overall appearance.
This has been in our personal collection for well over thirty years.
This hand painted ceramic vase measures about 10 inches (24.5 cm)tall by 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter at it's widest point.
It dates circa 1870-1900 (during the late Meiji Period) in Japan.
It is in excellent condition with virtually all of the high relief gilding intact.
This 19th century Japanese carved ivory okimono measures approximately 9 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches in diameter at it's widest point.
It is intricately carved with fully delineated scales and teeth on the fish. The figure riding a fish is carved from one solid walrus tusk and it sits on a separate oval section as a base. The crystalline pattern that is so indicative of walrus ivory can be seen in many places on the carving, including Kinko's robe (interior front left) and the belly of the carp or koi.
It dates from the Meiji Period in Japan (circa 1870-1900).
It is in very good condition with some stabilized antique ivory fractures as are seen on many of these okimonos that are well over 100 years old.
Japan originally imported and adapted many Taoist and Buddhist teachings from China, which were then combined with native Shinto beliefs.
One Taoist figure incorporated into Japanese artwork was Kinko, a holy hermit. He is often depicted mounted on the enormous carp that carried him to the Undersea Kingdom. There, sea creatures taught him that all life is sacred.
In Japan the carp (koi) is also a symbol of persistence, longevity, and fertility. Land-locked farmers have kept carp in their ponds to provide food for centuries and also bred them for their beautiful colors.
This original 19th century wooden carving of a Chinese Emperor with gilded and polychrome details measures 11 inches tall, 5 3/4 inches wide and 4 1/2 inches deep. It is in outstanding condition with ornate detailing and symbols in high relief on it's golden robe.
The one exception to it's unusually good condition is the loss of one hand. The hair in it's beard is REAL.
This small stone figure of a standing Jizo Bosatsu (Buddha)with both hands holding the sacred jewel.
It measures 5 3/4 inches tall or 14.5 cm in height.
It dates to the Meiji Period: circa 1900.
It is in excellent condition with a softening of the lines and contours and very minor losses.
It's origin would be Sadogashima Island, off the coast of Japan, which is famous for its production of figurative stone Jizo.
It is carved from Sado granite from the island and known as Sado Jizo.
Small examples are uncommon and rarely found in such good condition.
This jade carving of a Chinese lion, Chimera or Fu dog sits at an alert posture on all four paws.
It has a split or bifurcated tail and stylized wings.
It measures 2 1/2 inches by 1 7/8 inches by 1 1/4 inch (57 mm x 49 mm x 31 mm).
It is carved from a piece of off white to celadon colored jade with natural striations running through it. There is a natural brown irregularity which runs from it's foot to it's ear on one side along with a small area of brown suffusion on it's flank.
(This is the fancy way of saying it has few areas of rust. Not a bad thing for a genuine antique jade carving.)
We are dating this one to the Qing Dynasty, but it may actually be much earlier.
This ANTIQUE CHINESE EXPORT PEWTER FISH BOWL & COVER measures 8 1/2 inches by 7 inches by 4 inches.
It is in excellent condition with no evidence of restoration or repairs. It does have some tarnish and wear as would be expected on a soft pewter serving dish that is between 120-160 years old.
IT IS HALLMARKED ON BOTH THE BOTTOM OF THE BOWL AND UNDER THE LID.
IT STILL RETAINS IT'S ORIGINAL GLASS EYES.
This antique wooden mask is a representation of Mahakala.
It dates from the late 19th or earlier.
It is similar in style and iconography to masks from Nepal, Tibet or Sikkim.
It measures about 13 inches high by 9 inches wide.
It is in very good condition except for a few small cracks and losses to the wood. It has remnants of remaining overpaint in the crevices and recessed areas.
Comparables Note: a slightly larger mask with the original paint remaining is listed in Miller's Price Guide(2003) at $7,800-$9,400 (Sotheby's - NY)(see photo enlargement #4).
This nephrite jade carving is a pale celadon to yellow jade altered to brown overall.
It appears to have been buried for an extended period of time, based on the level of alteration or oxidation.
We conservatively estimate that this antique nephrite jade dates to the late 19th - early 20th century.
It may actually be much older. Please view the detailed photos carefully.
The buyer will not be disappointed.
It measures 80 mm x 45mm x 12 mm in depth.
It is in very good condition with the exception of a slight loss to one wing tip, which appears to have happened ages ago because it shows wear and toning consistent with the rest of the carving.
The shape of the tail is unusual in that it looks like a sea monster . Without its pointed beak, it could be mistaken for a dragon or a kylin.
This Japanese Carved Wooden Mask measures 10 inches tall by 7 3/4 inches wide (ear to ear) by 4 inches in depth. It is also about 1 1/2 inches in thickness at center narrowing down to about 3/4 inch thick at edges.
It is carved from a tightly grained wood similar to those found in 19th century Japanese furniture.
It has a nice patina and retains traces of original pale maroon color in some areas.
It is in excellent condition and has wonderful parallel grooves over entire interior: most likely carving marks, but very finely detailed. They do not show up well in photos.
This original bronze figure of a seated and robed official holding a jui (symbol of power) measures 8 1/2 inches tall by 5 inches wide by 3 1/2 inches.
It is covered overall with a very subtle and dark patina. It has a softness of detail that only comes from hundreds of years of handling. It also has a few cracks and slight losses to it's surface that do not detract from it's overall appearance.
It dates to a period ranging from the 15th through the 17th centuries in China.
The buyer will not be disappointed, as it is nicer than the photos would indicate. This bronze figure is guaranteed to be an original ( of the period. It is NOT a copy or reproduction of any kind.
This antique hardstone carving of a reclining ox dates from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) or the early portion of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD).
It measures about 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 X 1 1/4 inches or 58mm x 31mm x 30 mm.
It is carved from white variegated stone with a small area of pale gray in the center.
It is in excellent condition with a substantial amount of reddish brown oxidation on it's base.
We are describing this as hard stone because it does not pass the scratch test for jade. The possibility exists, however, that it is actually altered jade which has been softened over time and proximity to the elements.
This Japanese bronze handled mirror measures about 8 inches in diameter (21cm) with an extended handle which increases the full height to about 12 inches or 30 centimeters(cm).
It dates to the late Edo Period or Early Meiji period ( about the middle of the 19th century (1840-1860).
It is signed in the left portion of the front. It also has birds flying over churning waves in the ocean.
It still has most of it's silver ovrlay on the two large Kanji marks on the front. It also has remnants of it's silver on the reverse or "Face" of the mirror.
Bronze mirrors were introduced into Japan from China and Korea about 300 BC - AD 300.
At first they had a religious function and were regarded as symbols of authority.
The Japanese soon learned to make their own mirrors using lost-wax casting and decorated them with Japanese or Chinese designs.
By the Nara period (AD 710-794) mirrors were made for everyday use and used designs such as plants and animals to symbolize good fortune.
From the Kamakura period (1185-1333) a design showing Hôraizan (the Chinese 'Island of Immortality') became popular.. More new designs and the first handled mirrors appeared in the Muromachi period (1333-1568).
During the Edo period (1600-1868), mirrors decorated with lucky symbols or Chinese characters were given at weddings. Mirrors became larger as hairstyles became more ornate; some mirrors in Kabuki theatre dressing-rooms were up to fifty centimetres across and were placed on stands. The faces of mirrors were highly polished or burnished, with itinerant tinners and polishers specializing in this work. Since the mirror, together with the sword and the jewel, were symbols of Imperial power, mirror-makers were deeply revered and often given honorary titles such as Tenka-Ichi ('First under Heaven'). However, this title was often misused and was officially prohibited in 1682. Bronze mirrors were replaced by glass mirrors after the Meiji Restoration (1868).
This museum quality silvered bronze Nepalese or Sino-Tibetan figure of Tara (also known as Kuan Yin or Guanyin) dates to the 14th to 15th century or earlier.
It stands 10 1/2 inches tall by 3 inches in diameter.
It has exquisite details and very subtle modeling.
It is in excellent condition and retains much of it's original silver finish.
A similar example can be seen in "Oriental Art: India, Nepal & Tibet" by Michael Ridley, 1970, Plate 37 (listed as 14th Century or earlier).