λ A massive 19th century Chinese ivory vase, the rectangular body finely and elaborately carved, with four panels depicting the story of the cowherd Niulang and the weaver girl Zhinu, within cloudy rocky landscapes with pine trees, buildings and other figures, the neck with two further panels and with lion dog mask ring handles, on a scrolling foliage ground, the base with further playful dogs above a Greek key band, 44.5cm high, together with a hardwood stand.
Provenance: An English Private Collection.
The romantic legend of the two lovers Zhinu and Niulang is an ancient Chinese love story that has been told since the Han Dynasty. Zhinu was a weaver girl and Niulang a cowherd, and their love was not allowed, so they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver river (symbolising the milky way). Once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers for one day. Their reunion is celebrated in China with the Qixi festival. The main panel (featured) on this vase depicts the couple secretly marrying in front of a pine tree spirit, the heavenly bridge can be seen at the top of the panel.