Length: 3 1/2 inches, 8.4 cm
Height: 1 1/2  inches, 3.8 cm


Jade boy and buffalo group

China, Qianlong period, 18th century

A jade group of a boy holding a spray of millet in his right hand and clasping the horn of a recumbent buffalo. A long rope is attached to the buffalo’s nostrils and trails underneath the animal.  The animal’s tail is swept around the hindquarters.  The stone is of even, greenish celadon colour with some russet markings.

Wolfram Eberhard states that the ox or buffalo (niu) is the second animal in the Chinese zodiac. It symbolises Spring, as work on the land begins in this season with ceremonial ploughing.[1]  A very similar group of a boy riding a buffalo, the animal holing a spray of millet, is in the collection of the Wuhan Museum.[2]

Private Collection, UK.
Christie’s, May 2018.

1    Eberhard, Wolfram, A Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986, p. 222.
2    https://mo.mbd.baidu.com/r/Ua3QwflBf2?f=cp&u=838c0f5ab925ad3b