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Head of a stag
Place of Origin: China
Historical Period: Western Zhou dynasty (approx. 1050-771 BCE)
Object Name: Jewelry
Materials: Nephrite
Dimensions: H. 1 1/2 in x W. 3/4 in x D. 1/2 in, H. 3.8 cm x W. 1.9 cm x D. 1.3 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Chinese Art
Collection: Jade And Stones
Object Number: B62J59
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 14

Description

Label:

The Shang and early Western Zhou practice of combing parts from real or imaginary creatures to form a composite image often makes it difficult to identify what form of animal is being depicted in any particular piece of jade. That is certainly the case in this example, which is most often described as the head of a stag. Certainly the stag was among the creatures commonly found in Western Zhou jades, and this in itself supports this definition. The muzzle, eyes, and ears of this animal also resemble those of a stag. However, the horns are bottle-shaped, a type found on certain more reptilian forms on bronzes of the Shang dynasty, and the elongated proportions of the pendant distort many of the facial characteristics.

This is a small but complex piece. The "bottle" horns begin with a strong flaring element on the outside of each horn, perhaps meant to represent ears, and a large hole drilled between them. It is doubtful that this hole could have served as a point of suspension since it is open on one side. The horns continue up from this point in the more standard bottle shape. In contrast to many Western Zhou jades, this piece is quite thick with a fair amount of surface detail rendered in three-dimensions. The eyes bulge out of the head, and a strongly defined eyebrow extends back over each one. The mouth is a deeply cut slit. On the underside a groove extends from the hole at the base of the horn to the jaw. From there a small hole is drilled through into the slit of the mouth. This served as the point of suspension.

The piece is cut from very light colored Khotan jade. It is high quality stone with good translucence, no inclusions, and no veining. The finish is reasonably high as is the level of polish.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998
Label:

The Shang and early Western Zhou practice of combing parts from real or imaginary creatures to form a composite image often makes it difficult to identify what form of animal is being depicted in any particular piece of jade. That is certainly the case in this example, which is most often described as the head of a stag. Certainly the stag was among the creatures commonly found in Western Zhou jades, and this in itself supports this definition. The muzzle, eyes, and ears of this animal also resemble those of a stag. However, the horns are bottle-shaped, a type found on certain more reptilian forms on bronzes of the Shang dynasty, and the elongated proportions of the pendant distort many of the facial characteristics.

This is a small but complex piece. The "bottle" horns begin with a strong flaring element on the outside of each horn, perhaps meant to represent ears, and a large hole drilled between them. It is doubtful that this hole could have served as a point of suspension since it is open on one side. The horns continue up from this point in the more standard bottle shape. In contrast to many Western Zhou jades, this piece is quite thick with a fair amount of surface detail rendered in three-dimensions. The eyes bulge out of the head, and a strongly defined eyebrow extends back over each one. The mouth is a deeply cut slit. On the underside a groove extends from the hole at the base of the horn to the jaw. From there a small hole is drilled through into the slit of the mouth. This served as the point of suspension.

The piece is cut from very light colored Khotan jade. It is high quality stone with good translucence, no inclusions, and no veining. The finish is reasonably high as is the level of polish.


Exhibition History: "Chinese Jade: Stone of Immortality", Cernuschi Museum, France, 9/26/1997 - 1/4/1998