Height: 4 1/2 inches, 11 cm
Width: 4 inches, 10 cm

Rock crystal vase

China, 17th - 18th century

A rock crystal vase of tree trunk form, a branch forming a handle. The sides are carved in relief with prunus, pine and bamboo. The irregular top rim is channelled. The bottom section of the vase is carved with a crane standing on a rockwork base from which sprays of lingzhi emanate. The base of the vase is flat.The stone is transparent and has no coloured inclusions.

Rock crystal is traditionally valued for its translucent quality as a symbol of purity, and is referred it as shujing, literally meaning ‘water essence’.[1]  Prunus, pine and bamboo are collectively known as the “Three Friends of Winter” because they stay green in winter. The crane and the lingzhi fungus are symbolic of Long Life, making it likely that this rock crystal vase was intended as a gift.

  1. Wilson, M. Chinese Jades, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2004, p. 102