A small agate carved figure of a Meiren
Early 18th century
The naked lady is depicted seated with her legs slightly bent in front of her. She is holding a scarf in her right hand twirling around her legs and extending behind her back. Her head is tilted to the left, her face rendered with a gentle smile. A brown patch in the stone is skilfully utilized to portray the neatly tied top-knot of the hair. The translucent stone is of milky-beige tone.
4.1 cm high, wood stand
Formerly in the collection of Gerard Dissevelt
Gerard Dissevelt (1912-1992) was a Dutch ambassador who was stationed in China and Japan during the 1950s.
It is extremely rare to find an agate figure of this exceptional quality. The intricate details of facial features, the skilful use of the brown patch in the stone to render the hair and very fine carving of hands and feet make this a unique piece. Agate has a hardness of 7 on Moh’s scale, which is harder than jade. For working agate, abrasives were used which contained diamond dust, enabling the craftsman to achieve the highest quality of workmanship.
This meiren, with her seducing pose as well as the hair gathered in a bun, is reminiscent of erotic figures in the late Ming style and is comparable to an ivory example of a more voluptuous naked lady in similar pose, also holding a scarf. Erotic figures carved from a variety of materials are mainly known from the Ming dynasty, as they gradually ceased to be made during the Qing dynasty. A late Ming to early Qing jade example from the Guan Fu Collection was exhibited in New York.