I am rarely shaken by the magnificence of an antique jade, just by holding it in my hands. Well, this is one of them.
This is a rare Ming Dynasty hetian white jade belt plaque featuring a four-clawed dragon dancing amidst a sea of flowers. On the four corners are depicted two lotus flowers, a bird and a bat (all of which are traditional auspicious patterns).
By Ming Dynasty laws, a jade belt may only be worn by the Emperor, other high-ranking royalties, and court officials of the first class (the first class is limited to the top few persons in the empire). This is recorded in the Ming official documents (《明史 舆服志》“凡帝王、一品、公、侯、伯、驸马、或皇帝特赐，方可用玉带”). As such, jade belt plaques are very rare collector items - their value is testified by sales at esteemed auction houses.
Clearly, this is a well-carved piece. As I stare into the dragon, I can almost hear it roar with a thundering voice!
Very large (17.5 cm long). According to Ming Dynasty customs, out of 20 pieces of large and small components of a jade belt, only the 2 largest pieces are this size.
Well-preserved through at least 400 years of history - with a minor defect indicated by an arrow in one of the pictures. Does not affect the overall presentation.
Comes with a box made of fragrant wood.
PS: a cursory Google search for "Ming Jade Belt Plaque" will show that similar items are in the collection of prominent museums such as Asian Art Museum in San Francisco and China's Hubei Museum - only that the listed jade plaque here is visibly larger. For example, the similar jade plaque in Hubei Museum is 16.8 cm long.
Contact me for more details. Thanks.