A jade boulder
Height: 7 in, 17.8 cm
of natural rocky form, and worked with a scholar, writing a poem on the rock face, accompanied by his attendant, holding an inkstone; the landscape is sparsely strewn with trees. The stone is a celadon-green tone with russet markings.
Formerly in a Swiss private collection.
It is said that in 1087 a group of famous scholars gathered in the Western Garden of Wang Shen, the late Emperor’s son-in-law, to celebrate the return to the capital after exile of the scholar Su Shi, an occasion known as The Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden (Xiyuan Yaji). The scholar-artist Mi Fu (1052–1107) is supposed to have written an account of the event and it has become a popular subject for paintings. Mi Fu himself is usually depicted in these paintings inscribing a rock face and this is probably the inspiration for the subject of this boulder.
A similar jade boulder is illustrated in Roger Keverne, Jade (London, 1991), fig. 3, p. 352, and note also fig. 117, p. 174, a related boulder of this form.
For a boulder with this scene, see Robert Fisher, Magic, Art and Order: Jade in Chinese Culture (Palm Springs, 1990), no. 123, p. 119.