Height: 15.500 cm
Bequeathed by James Hilton
Asia OA 1930.12-17.10
Room 33: Asia
Qing dynasty, 18th century AD
A mountain paradise carved in miniature
Reproduction of the world in miniature is a recurring theme in Chinese art. Representations of mountains in particular signified escape from China's highly ordered, bureaucratic society to the natural world. In Daoist thought, the mountains were also the home of the immortals, and so symbolized paradise and the attainment of everlasting life.
Such objects would be placed on a scholar's desk or in a cabinet, as objects of contemplation. They might be made of a variety of materials, including jade, like this example, or in bamboo root, turquoise, bronze and porcelain. Roots, rocks, gourds and other objects from the natural world were similarly appreciated in the scholar's studio.
This jade mountain has a scene of sages and boys in a garden with a pavilion. It is a particularly fine carving, calling to mind the monumental landscapes of Chinese painting.
J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)