Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Length: 3 ¾ inches
Grey/Celadon Nephrite with Russet Skin
In Chinese art the rabbit is one of the most auspicious signs of the zodiac, symbolizing fertility, cleverness, and hope. The present jade rabbit is rendered from a jade river pebble of a dark celadon and grey color. The artist has preserved the natural shape of the pebble and masterfully incorporated the russet red skin of the stone. This particular animal form is based on an Eastern Han dynasty archaism, reinterpreted in the Ming style.
The rabbit is seated in a recumbent pose with the head lowered over the extended front paws and the ears laid flat along the back of the animal. Two simple circular eyes decorate the face. The underside of the piece is left flat. The simplicity of the depiction results in an elegant animal figure with attention drawn to the velvety polish and refined material of the object. In our opinion, the subject matter, material and workmanship indicate a Ming Dynasty date for this work of art.
Reference Number: 3958
Formerly in the Longshantang Collection, California.
For a prototype of this jade rabbit from the Han Dynasty see Chinese Jade Animals. Hong Kong: Urban Council & Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1996. Page 70, Number 39.
For a discussion of the symbolic importance of the rabbit in Chinese art see, Encyclopedia of Chinese Symbolism and Art Motives. C.A.S. Williams. New York: Julian Press, 1960. Page 218-219.
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