By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Cookie Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your Cookie Settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.

Reject

Jade Crouching Mythical Animal or Tianlu

Price on Request

Jade tianlu, of unthreatening appearance, crouching four-square, its front paws tucked under its chin. The stone is of pale tone with tan inclusions. The animal is carved in the round, its large head with prominent round eyes, wide, flattened muzzle, mouth open to show two teeth, bushy eyebrows additionally marked by dots, scrolling ears and a short horn placed on top of its head. It has a plump body carved with seven prominent bumps down its spine, terminating in a bifurcated tail, and is engraved with wavy parallel lines to represent fur to either side of the spinal bumps. A motif is carved in low relief on each back leg, perhaps representing flames. Two holes are pierced just behind the horn drilled vertically through to a hole in the belly. The stone bears a soft, lustrous polish.
 

Length: 6.1cm

Provenance: 
Wilfrid Fleisher, Stockholm.

Mr and Mrs Peter S. Scarisbrick, London.

Exhibited: 
Stockholm, 1963, The National Museum.

London, 1975, Victoria and Albert Museum.

London, 1976, Eskenazi Limited.

London, 2016, Eskenazi Limited.

Published: 
Bo Gyllensvärd, Celadon Jade, Stockholm, 1963, number 129.

Jessica Rawson and John Ayers, Chinese Jade throughout the Ages, Arts Council of Great Britain and the Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1975, number 196.

Eskenazi Limited, Chinese jades from a private collection, London, 1976, number 9.

Eskenazi Ltd., Early Chinese art from a private collection, London, 2016, catalogue number 7.

Similar example: 
Jessica Rawson and John Ayers, Chinese Jade throughout the Ages, Arts Council of Great Britain and the Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1975, number 195. 


This small jade carving is here described as tianlu as opposed to its close relative bixie. Both terms have auspicious associations and describe a fantastic beast that was, in earlier times, ‘shaped like a deer: those with one horn represent the heavenly deer (tianlu), those with two can ward off evil (bixie).’1 By the Tang period, both tianlu and bixie appear to have loosened their connection to their deer-like ancestry and are most commonly represented as a mixture of lion or feline and dragon, sometimes winged and with one or two horns. The present example has one centrally placed horn and therefore seems to qualify as tianlu. 

1 Jessica Rawson, Chinese Ornament: the Lotus and the Dragon, London, 1984, page 108.