The heavily carved white Hetian nephrite jade boulder from the Qing Dynasty tells the most wonderful story on its two faces. On one side a scholar is shown with an attendant crossing a bridge over a mountain stream to a pagoda. True to the Taoist thought, it was common for a scholar to retreat to such a place to meditate and absorb the serenity of nature. Pine trees often symbolized friendship and good scholarship; in this scene the trees drastically bend toward the figures and pagoda. Not only does this gesture focus the composition towards the event of the scholar reaching his refuge, but suggests he is well received by the landscape itself.

On the other side, the same body of water from under the scholar's bridge flows past a second pagoda perched in the mountains with a scholar or monk inside. The figure is shown gazing out into the landscape. Below, three figures stand on a rock cliff. The scene is incredibly balanced with the texture of the trees contrasted against the sheer rock faces of the mountain. Flowing over the peaks, the foaming waterfall connects both scenes of the carving. The Taoist love and respect for nature is beautifully articulated in every aspect of this piece.

Gray's Fine Art, Furniture and Decorative Arts will take place on March 2, 2016. Check out the full catalog on Barnebys here.