Rare Rhinoceros Horn Carved Cup, 18th Century
Finely carved in-the-round with a scene of two figures, one seated by the riverbank, the other casually resting on his boat, the undulating form of the flowing water continuing towards the foot and along the base, the landscape rendered in exquisite detail with craggy rocks, overhanging boulders and a large reticulated pine tree forming the handle, the leaves and upper branches carved along one side of the wide rim, the colour ranging from a pale caramel tone to dark coffee brown. Wood stand
3.3" x 5.9" — 8.4 x 15 cm.
7.7 oz. — 240 grams
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The two figures featured in this carving are likely representations of a woodcutter and fisherman, symbolizing two of the ‘four noble occupations’. The four occupations was a method of ranking commoners based on their profession that was used in Imperial China. At the top of the hierarchy were gentleman scholars, followed by peasant farmers, artisans or craftsmen and finally merchants and traders. A similar carving can be found in Thomas Fok’s CONNOISSEURSHIP OF RHINOCEROS HORN CARVINGS IN CHINA, 1999, fig. 140 from the Collection of Mr. Chung-kit Fok.
Purchased by the Vancouver owner from Christie’s New York, September 16, 1999, lot 137
Department: Asian Art
Period: Hang, Ming