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Sydney L. Moss Ltd

Shih-sou (Ming dynasty)
Mid to late Ming dynasty, 15th-17th century

A copper-red bronze seated upright elephant paperweight or desk ornament of hefty palm-of-the-hand scale, inlaid using silver wire with a surface patterning of scrolling floral design, giving the beast’s otherwise naturalistic surface an archaising effect.

Signed underneath in silver wire with the “signature” Shih-sou.

“Old Man Rock” was a Ming and later generic signature for figural works and desk objects decorated with such silver wire surface inlay; animals using the technique and bearing the Shih-sou name are far, far rarer. This red elephant, with its powerful baroque curlicue devolution of skin folds and ears, is earlier than many; although whether or not that allows for the possibility that the first Shih-sou actually made it himself remains highly debatable. The fitted box for the animal features a pre-crinkled fabric for it to sit in, entertainingly echoing the nature of elephant skin.

all text & images Sydney L. Moss Ltd

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