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Mythic beast
Place of Origin: China
Date: approx. 1800-1900
Historical Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Materials: Nephrite
Dimensions: H. 5 1/2 in x W. 6 in x D. 3 1/2 in, H. 14 cm x W. 15.2 cm x D. 9 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Jade And Stones
Object Number: B60J837
On Display: No

Description

Label:

A piece of hetian jade with flaws has been largely stained with brownish areasthat contrast strongly with the remaining green areas in a carving of a mythic creature. The single-horned winged beast lies with its feet tucked under it and its head slightly raised. The creature is depicted in realistic detail. Its open mouth reveals teeth and tongue, and its big eyes have bulging pupils. The nose resembles a fungus head (ruyi), and the body is rounded. The tail splits into two spirals that curl up onto the beast's back. The claws are carefully finished. Extremely refined striations, especially those in short, parallel lines, precisely define the mane, wings, and tail hair.

The beast is identified as either a kilin (qilin or a tianlu. The tianlu image—with a deer head but without wings, as illustrated in a Qing period book—seems to follow the description of both tianlu and bixie in Han books, which refer to a beast with a deerlike, elongated body (Liang Shizheng [1700–1800] 1965, vol. 6, chap. 38, p. 37). If that was an accurate image of Han tianlu, then modern identifications of winged beasts with the heads of lions or dragons as tianlu and bixie are incorrect.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Stones of Eternity: Chinese Jades from the Asian Art Museum", Tooley & Company, The Hibernia Bank Building (201 California Street, San Francisco), 2/10/1986 - 2/1987
"Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998
"Eternal Stone and Immortal Brush: Chinese Jades and Paintings from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco", Fresno Metropolitan Museum, 2/24/2002 - 6/9/2002
Later Chinese Jades: Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century (Tateuchi Gallery, 11/10/2007 - 8/2008)
"The Resplendent Stone: Chinese Jades from the 18th-20th Centuries," SFO International Terminal, December 12, 2009 - June 6, 2010
Label:

A piece of hetian jade with flaws has been largely stained with brownish areasthat contrast strongly with the remaining green areas in a carving of a mythic creature. The single-horned winged beast lies with its feet tucked under it and its head slightly raised. The creature is depicted in realistic detail. Its open mouth reveals teeth and tongue, and its big eyes have bulging pupils. The nose resembles a fungus head (ruyi), and the body is rounded. The tail splits into two spirals that curl up onto the beast's back. The claws are carefully finished. Extremely refined striations, especially those in short, parallel lines, precisely define the mane, wings, and tail hair.

The beast is identified as either a kilin (qilin or a tianlu. The tianlu image—with a deer head but without wings, as illustrated in a Qing period book—seems to follow the description of both tianlu and bixie in Han books, which refer to a beast with a deerlike, elongated body (Liang Shizheng [1700–1800] 1965, vol. 6, chap. 38, p. 37). If that was an accurate image of Han tianlu, then modern identifications of winged beasts with the heads of lions or dragons as tianlu and bixie are incorrect.


Exhibition History: "Stones of Eternity: Chinese Jades from the Asian Art Museum", Tooley & Company, The Hibernia Bank Building (201 California Street, San Francisco), 2/10/1986 - 2/1987
"Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998
"Eternal Stone and Immortal Brush: Chinese Jades and Paintings from the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco", Fresno Metropolitan Museum, 2/24/2002 - 6/9/2002
Later Chinese Jades: Ming Dynasty to Early Twentieth Century (Tateuchi Gallery, 11/10/2007 - 8/2008)
"The Resplendent Stone: Chinese Jades from the 18th-20th Centuries," SFO International Terminal, December 12, 2009 - June 6, 2010