QING DYNASTY, 18TH CENTURY
The rock crystal is carved in the form of a recumbent ram with its head turned to the right and legs tucked beneath its body. One small ram lies recumbent above the mother figure while another small ram hides behind its haunch. The rock crystal is polished to a high finish and rests on a wooden stand with rockwork and foliage design.
The motif of the three rams harks back to the I Ching (Book of Changes) and alludes to the idiom sanyang kaitai 三羊開泰, which means ‘three rams bring fortune.’
A related jade example is published in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Small Refined Articles of the Study 故宮博物院藏文物珍品大系： 文玩, 2009, p. 118, Catalogue No. 86.
Formerly from the Property of Lady Henry Canova Vollam Morton, FRSL, also known as H.V. Morton (1892-1979), who was a travel writer and journalist who reported the opening of the Tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter