The Qianlong emperor was a great connoisseur of ancient jades. His personal expertise of such pieces has been the subject of no less than 800 of his poems. On April 7 in Hong Kong, Sotheby's sells one of the most exceptional jades from this former imperial collection, lot 3202 estimated HK $ 30M.
This bi has a complex shape for a total height of 24 cm. The wide inner ring is engraved on both sides of a tight pattern of nails. The outer ring and the protrusion are pierced and carved with dragons, chi, a phoenix and two large letters. The color varies between dark celadon and honey brown.
The emperor took a special care to highlight this piece. In the Gengyin year, 1770 in our calendar, he did assemble it into a removable table screen in zitan 31 cm high. His comment was inscribed on the rim of the bi and on the reverse side of the screen. The end of the imperial poem is questioning "to whom did you belong?" assessing that it was for the emperor a symbol of the forgotten imperial past.
The Qianlong emperor knew that this piece was created a millennium and a half before him, symbolizing longevity both in its decoration and its age. It had been executed during the second Han dynasty 1900 to 1800 years ago from our time.
This lot had been sold for HK$ 34.5M including premium by Sotheby's on April 8, 2007, lot 603.