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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1084 

Lot 1084
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Lot 1084
Treasury 2, no. 265 (‘The Lion-dance Agate’)

Dendritic agate; extremely well hollowed; with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a broad, flat foot rim
Official School, 1740–1860
Height: 6.13 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.68/2.08 and 1.98 cm (oval)
Stopper: glass; vinyl collar

Gerd Lester (1986)

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 211
Treasury 2, no. 265

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

This type of chalcedony is properly termed agate, since it has banding on the plainer main side and distinctive areas of concentric banding in small patches within the vivid russet tones of the more colourful main side. Because of some areas of fern-like markings at the edges of the russet colouring, it could also be described as dendritic chalcedony, dendritic agate, or even moss-agate. Just to add to the confusion, there are quite large areas of the russet colouring that, were they used alone in a much smaller object, would qualify as jasper (compare, for instance, the material of Sale 6, lot 189).

The Blochs have interpreted the markings as the sort of Buddhist lion one sees in the ubiquitous Lion Dance, with the face of the lion in the upper-right quadrant of the russet colouring. The lower part of the design is read as the dancers holding the lion aloft. For anyone unable or unwilling to see it as such, we recommend a comparison with Sale 7, lot 6, where a slightly better defined Buddhist lion is identified beyond doubt by a fully carved model of the familiar brocaded ball with which it is usually associated.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s.


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