Rare rhino horn libation cup goes under the gavel in Maine Jan. 30

FAIRFIELD, Maine – James D. Julia has announced it is offering two remarkable Asian Art treasures during the firm’s Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2013, Annual Winter Antique, Asian & Fine Art Auction in Fairfield, Maine.

The first item is a Chinese rhinoceros horn libation cup from a Southern family estate. This rarity was produced during the K’ang Hsi period (1662-1722); it is in raft form with a hollow center, flat base and elaborate carvings. There are only 18 known raft cups in existence. This cup rests on a nautically detailed zitan wood stand, which is detailed with crashing waves.

Rhino-horn libation cup, raft form with two figures, on zitan wood base. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers)

The cup itself is unique in two key ways. The first is its size. The piece measures 10 inches long and is considered quite large given that horn cups range in size from 8 to 13 inches. The second is its form. It features a lifelike rendition of Zhang Qian (200 BCE to 114 BCE), the first official diplomat to travel what is now known as the “Silk Road” and to bring back reliable information about Central Asia to the Chinese imperial court, accompanied by a bare-breasted European woman.

There is no other known example of a rhinoceros horn libation cup with this theme.

The second noteworthy item is an important Korean palace longevity screen from the late Yi Dynasty period. It was a gift to the consignor’s grandfather, a diplomat, at the end of World War II. This 18th-century piece consists of 10 silk panel screens that have been hand-painted with ink and mineral pigments. It measures 83 inches tall and 165 inches wide overall and features an artist’s interpretation of the Gardens of Longevity. The scene pictures a blue and green stylized landscape, golden clouds, a bright red sun, a peaceful waterfall and a meandering river.

The design is deeply rooted in numerology, which is particularly evident with its animal

Korean Palace Longevity screen, 83 inches tall by 165 inches wide, late Yi Dynasty. (Photo courtesy James D. Julia Auctioneers)

inhabitants. These include several pairs of cranes, a herd of 10 deer and four mythical tortoises. Additionally, two coral-red pine trees feature prominently in the forefront, suggesting that the artist was married. The inscription on the back reads, “Ten Panels for Long Life.”

These two important pieces were discovered through James D. Julia’s Woburn, Mass., office, which was recently established to deliver identification, valuation and auction services to the Boston and southern New England areas.

According to Woburn-based Jim Callahan, director of Asian Arts and a regular on PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow” since 1996, “Both of these treasures are exceptional and absolute rarities. I have been a student, connoisseur, and appraiser of fine Asian Arts for over 40 years and have never seen anything like the rhinoceros horn libation cup. Its form and subject until now were unknown.

“The Korean Palace Longevity Screen is simply breathtaking in its arrangement, color, and balance. It tells a magical story in the most fantastic way and I have not seen better examples in any of the world’s finest museums.”

For more information on James D. Julia’s Annual Winter Antique, Asian & Fine Art Auction, visit www.jamesdjulia.com or contact the firm at info@jamesdjulia.com or call 207-453-7125.

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