Rare Yuan or early Ming nephrite jade depicting Shoulao with a child on his shoulders, about 7.6 cm high. Very fine carving, in comparison with the usual standard of similar examples of this period. Marvellous patina with opaque and almost pearlescent surfaces. Also the quality of the nephrite is very high, having been chosen an attractive multi - colored yellow / green stone, with brown inclusions, a rare kind of gem typically used in the period from late Song to Yuan.
The present jade carving of Shoulao is an extraordinarily rare example of late Yuan to early Ming date, executed with superb intricacy and delicacy. The compelling sculptural quality is emphasised by the combination of the vivid facial features of the figure, of the playful expression of the child, with little details very sensitively carved. The present lot demonstrates the significant development in jade craftsmanship at the end of the Yuan dynasty, when the taste for rare and multi-colored jade gems, inherited by the older dynasties ruling over ancient China, was combined with a special attention the the carving details, as seen in the incised lines that enhance little particulars, as the edges of the robe of the figure. From the beginning of Ming era, the use of this special quality of jade will fastly disappear, and the details will progressively be lacking the meticulous attention seen here, at least till the final phase of this dynasty.
The facial features and clothing style of the figure in the present lot are characteristic of the end of Yuan period, and also the roundish outline of the back, showing somewhat innaturally bulbous, is a typical feature of many jade sculpture of human figures from the Yuan period to early Ming era. Also the wide use of short parallel incised lines to highlight in an almost pictorial way many details of the sculpture, especially of the beard and eyebrows and the edges of the robe, is a specificity of late Yuan to early Ming jade carvings: at this purpose, please take a look to the close-up photo of the face of the very important Yuan period jade depicting a foreigner, sold at Bonham's Hong Kong in the sale of may 30th 2017 "THE SONGZHUTANG COLLECTION OF EARLY JADES from the Neolithic Period to the Yuan Dynasty", lot nr. 65, sold for HK$ 1,125,000 (€ 125.822,00) (courtesy of Bonham's, all rights reserved).
A genuine antique item, for true connoisseurs.