Mythical Elephant Stone Mortar

c. 1850
$1,880 USD SOLD
W: 9.5" D: 7.25" H: 6.25"
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Hand-carved from a single block of limestone, this 19th-century sculptural container was originally used as a mortar, possibly in a Chinese apothecary to grind herbal medicines. With a clean, rounded form, the mortar is devoid of decoration, save for a mythical creature carved into the handle. The bat-like creature is carved with the head of an elephant in its mouth, in reference to the bashe dragon, a serpentine mythological creature that swallows elephants whole. The striking scene evokes the Chinese idiom "ba she tun xiang," a cautionary phrase that warns against excessive greed and consumption. With a beautifully aged surface texture that calls to be touched, this stone mortar looks enchanting as a planter filled with flowers or lush greenery.

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