A jade double vase

18th-19th century

The naturistically carved bamboo-shaped vase consists of two conjoined hollowed trunks and six leafy stems of bamboo. The larger trunk is carved with a row of bosses around its base, the underside with crested waves. The stone is of pale celadon colour with russet inclusions and areas of mottling.

11 cm high, wood stand



Formerly in the collection of Jan Habbema, acquired in Indonesia prior to 1936, thence by descent in the family. 

Jan Habbema formed a vast collection of Chinese art whilst stationed as a high official in Bojonegoro, Indonesia, until 1936.


Bamboo represents one of the ‘Three Friends of Winter’, sanyou, and was one of the preferred themes of the literati. All three (bamboo, pine and prunus) flourish in winter and are associated with old age. The Chinese word for bamboo is pronounced the same as the word for to wish or congratulate, zhu. It symbolizes moral qualities or virtues like endurance, strength, righteousness, humility and flexibility. Traditionally, these are the ideal virtues of the literati.

This double vase could have been used as a brushpot or flower vase, but could also have served as a decorative piece for the scholar’s studio.

Due to its auspicious meaning it could have been a gift for many occasions. The decoration of waves on the base forms a combination of bamboo and water known as two of ‘The Five Pure Ones’. The matching stand is finely carved and probably originally made for this piece.

Another 19th century jade double bamboo vase with a standing phoenix is in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

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