Emperor Kwan-Wu of Eastern Han Dynasty Mutton Fat White Jade Water Container




dscn0526-001H. 15cm, L.18cm,  1.0kg.


The inscription of “Kwan-Wu-Yu-Zhi(光武御製)” on the chest has identified the original owner of the container which is supposed to be water container called Yan Di (硯滴) in Chinese (writing brush had been used already before Eastern Han). In other words, it was made by the order of the first emperor Kwan-Wu of Eastern Han dynasty about two thousand years ago.  With mastery workmanship, this artifact is made of top quality mutton white jade(see gem lab test result ).  As far as antiquity is concerned,evidences of diffusive marking, deteriorate marking and differential weathering are obvious.


NonamecThe container design of mother carrying baby on the back has seen in the western Zhou Dynasty bronze artifacts. The lid of the container has a young eagle carving. Underneath the tail having two branches( having similar style to that of the bronze bird container ) of the mother eagle protecting a young dragon. The mother eagle is staring backward at both the young eagle and the young dragon to make sure they are nicely taken care of. The noble character of c5loving not only her own loved one but also the others has fully been expressed. This theme conforms the Emperor Kwan -Wu’s economic policy of paying attention to people’s livelihood, resting with the people. The motif of the dragon is seen on both wings, with the Ruyi ( fulfill of one’s wishes) curly cloud motif on the tail. Both motifs are the symbol of nobleness and luck. Fairly unique among emperors in Chinese history was Emperor Guangwu’s Nonamencombination of decisiveness and mercy. He often sought out peaceful means rather than bellicose means of putting areas under his control. He was, in particular, one of the rare examples of a founding emperor of a dynasty who did not kill, out of jealousy or paranoia, any of the generals or officials who contributed to his victories after his rule was secure. The main theme of this jade artifact has fully expressed this.Judging from the perfect design made of top quality jade and historic significance, this artifact is no doubt one of the most valuable ones for serious collectors.The object is used as water container which stores water for the making of ink which is the result of grinding the ink stick( lower right image) on the ink stone( lower right image). (Lower left image is the Taipei’s National Palace Museum Ming Dynasty Yan Di( water container) has similar function of the present object.))

Appraisal Indexes:

  1. quality of jade: 10
  2. rareness: 10
  3. historical and cultural significance: 10
  4. workmanship: 10
  5. size:10
  6. condition: 10

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