Record sales for jade at auction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 April, 2004, 12:00am

Three pieces from the collection of Emperor Qianlong fetched record prices at a Sotheby's auction yesterday.

A shell-shaped Mughal white jade cup from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) of the Qing dynasty was sold for $9.24 million, setting an auction record for nephrite.

The white jade cup was given to Emperor Qianlong as a tribute from the Mughal court in India.

The cup is carved with a gardenia flower and an inscription of an Imperial poem by Qianlong who wrote, 'I simply cannot keep myself from gazing at it again and again', which revealed the emperor's affection for the piece.

A tianhuang imperial lion seal carved with a mythical animal, also from the Qianlong period, sold for $7.9 million, a record for the highest price fetched by a seal at public auction.

The seal was the emperor's personal mark and a sign of his authority. He used the seal on his own calligraphy and paintings which are displayed on scrolls in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

A green jade piece from the same period sold for $8.35 million, which Sotheby's said was an auction record for spinach jade.

The green stone is carved with pavilions, pathways, a river and bridges on one side, and pine trees and a waterfall on the other. It is inscribed with six-gilded imperial poems.

The scenes depicted on the piece show six inspection tours undertaken in southern China by the emperor.