A rhinoceros horn libation cup, 17th century
Finely carved as a lotus leaf rising from the bundled stems forming the handle and foot, the exterior carved with lotus blossoms, leaves, pods and cereal sheaves over the incised lotus-leaf veins, the interior carved with a pair of fish swimming along the sides of the cup, with fine scales and fins. 11cm (4¼in) across. Sold for £16,800
Note: A double fish (shuangyu) represents the blessing: May you be blessed with connubial bliss, fecundity and an abundance of good luck. A pair of fish is also symbolic of the joy of union and, due to the reproductive power, also the blessing of numerous offspring.
Compare a related rhinoceros horn cup with lotus and double fish motifs, dated 17th century, from the Thomas Fok Collection, illustrated by T.Fok, Connoisseurship of Rhinoceros Horn Carving in China, Hong Kong, 1999, pl.93.
Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art, 14 May 2009. New Bond Street www.bonhams.com