Description: Jade. China, Middle to late Western Zhou period, 10th-9th century BC
Small plaque of slightly arched shape decorated on both sides with the image of a crested and long-tailed standing bird in profile. The plaque, probably re-carved from a section of a broken ring, as suggested by its arched profile, has its border decorated on three sides with regular crenellations: a hole for suspension is drilled near the top, in the crest of the bird, with a gold ring attached in modern times.
The bird is depicted in an almost calligraphic style, with double thin incised lines marking the contour of the body and of the long, elaborate tail: this twists and disappears behind the body, to re-emerge over the head and terminates in a tip in front of the bird's curved and pointed beak. A long crest or a tuff of plumes protrudes from the head: the body of the bird is decorated with rounded and squared scrolls. This type of plumed bird is common on jades of the middle to late Western Zhou period: sometimes below the claws of the bird is engraved a stylized coiled dragon. Extensive remains of soil are encrusted within the lines incised on the surface.
Two similar plaques decorated with the same image and indentations on the border and from the Grenville L. Winthrop (1864-1943) collection are now part of the Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum collections, accession numbers 1943.50.135 and 1943.50.232. The second of the two plaques has an arched profile, as the present lot. The plaques can be seen here:
Further comparative examples are provided by two jade plaques decorated with the same plumed bird in the Freer/Sackler galleries, Washington, D.C., accession numbers RLS1997.48.3671 and S1987.534, images at:
凤纹玉饰片 - 西周晚期, 公元前10世紀-前9世紀
高7.3 厘米;宽 4.5 厘米
HEIGHT 7.6 CM - WIDTH 4.5 CM
From a German collection
Notes: All jades in this catalogue will soon be published in the forthcoming jade book by FILIPPO SALVIATI: "THE MYSTERIOUS STONE - Archaic and Antique Chinese Jades from Neolithic to Han from Private Collections".
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Professor Salviati teaches Chinese Art at the University "La Sapienza" in Rome, Faculty of Oriental Studies, and is one of the world's most recognized jade experts, specialized in archaic jades until the Song Dynasty. Hi-resolution pictures of all jades are to be found in our web-site, and can be enlarged so that handwork, age-related traces of weathering, as well as colors are very well recognizable.