H. 4 9/16 in. (11.6 cm); W. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm); D. 2 in. (5.1 cm)
Gift of Heber R. Bishop, 1902
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 222
An elephant carrying a vase was a popular decorative arts subject because of its auspicious meaning. The words for “vase” and “elephant” are homonymic with those for “peace” and “signs,” thus coinciding with a Chinese proverb: “When there is peace, there are signs” (tai ping you xiang).
The use of inlaid gems on jade was not a Chinese tradition but was inspired by Mughal jades brought to China from northern India in the eighteenth century. The garnets add not only a bright color but also an exotic appearance.