A Rare Chinese Ming Dynasty Gilt Bronze Pot Formed as An Elephant's Head


Origin: Chinese
Period: Mid / Late Sixteenth Century
Provenance: Last Acquired on the London Art Market c.1960-70
Date: c.1570-1620
Diameter: 8.5 cms
Weight: 265 grams   

The gilt-bronze pot with shallow dish and low domed lid formed as an elephant`s head on a geometric background with scroll decoration; the trunk continued from the lid to the dish terminating to form the whole.

Considering the considerable age, the piece is in very fine condition, there are areas of wear to the gilt, worn to a green patina, and structurally the pot is very sound. The interior shows a rounded even aged green patination.

During the period this piece was fashioned IE either under the reign of Ming Muzong (Zhu Zaihou) 1567 - 1572 or Ming Shenzong (Zhu Yijun) 1573 – 1620, the handicraft industry developed rapidly, especially through porcelain, resulting in a promoted market economy and urbanisation. As such, Ming leaders revived a sense of cultural identity and respect for traditional artifacts and craftsmanship with bronze incense burners resembling those of the Shang and Chou dynasties cast, and bright green and gold ceramic funerary objects recalling the T'ang.

A fine and whimsical piece of antiquity, showing early dexterity of Chinese Ming period design.