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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 1 

Lot 1

Lot 1
Treasury 2, no. 361 (‘Prince Ding’s Neighing-horse Crystal’)
HK$137,500

Crystal; of hexagonal form, well hollowed; with a slightly concave lip and protruding concave foot surrounded by a flat foot rim; inscribed in clerical script with a Tang-dynasty poem on the six facets of the body and, on the foot, with the hall name Xingyouheng Tang 行有恒堂
Possibly imperial, attributable to the palace workshops, 1770–1854
Height: 6.26 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.54 cm/1.78 cm
Stopper: coral; turquoise finial; vinyl collar

Condition Report: Shallow bruise in lip (0.65 x 3.00 cm). Miniscule, insignificant shallow chip above one panel on the shoulder. Some usual wear from handling

Provenance:
Jade House (1982)
Gerd Lester (1986)

Published:
Treasury 2, no. 361

The poem, Jing Li Zhengjun guju 經李徵君故居 (‘Stopping by the former residence of Li, a gentleman unsuccessfully sought by the court’) is by Wen Tingyun 溫庭筠 (d. 866; it has also been attributed to Wang Jian 王建, d. c.830). There are a number of variant wordings, many of them likely to have existed already in the ninth century. The version on the bottle is

露濃煙重草萋萋。樹映欄杆柳拂堤。一院落花無客醉,伍更殘月有鶯啼。芳筵想象情難盡,故榭荒涼路已迷。風景宛然人自改,卻經門巷馬頻嘶。

The dew is heavy, the mists oppressive, plants grow in profusion.
Trees set off the railings, willows brush the dyke.
The whole dooryard, fallen blossoms—there are no tipsy guests;
At the fifth watch, the waning moon—a crying oriole is heard.
That fine banquet is in my imagination now, the feelings never end;
The old terraces are desolate, the path already hidden.
The scene is just the same, but the people have changed;
Yet when I pass the gate in the lane, my horse neighs, over and over.

The calligraphic quality here is excellent and fluent, and it is difficult to imagine that it could have been achieved by moving the bottle against a spinning disk in a fixed position and still attain this sort of calligraphic grace, but it is possible. S. Howard Hansford (Hansford 1950, p. 83) says that in the eighteenth century diamond points were used to cut long inscriptions. For minute inscriptions, the diamond point alone was used, whereas for larger characters the shape was outlined with a diamond point and then shaped with iron tools held in the hand. The methods would have been the same for quartz as for jade.

A bottle of the same shape, also in brown crystal, incised with a different poem but in the same style of clerical script and with the prince’s hall name on the foot is in the

J & J Collection, acquired since the publication of our catalogue of that collection (Sotheby’s, New York, 22 September 1995, lot 202). There is also an unusual green glass version, imitating jadeite, with a red-filled inscription and the prince’s hall mark in Kleiner 1990, no. 22.

 

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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