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Dating to the late Ming or early Qing dynasty, the recumbent water buffalo is a symbol of strength and tranquility. The craftsman has tried to capture both qualities in this carving: the buffalo's benign expression contrasts with its powerful ridged horns that curl down the back of its fleshy upturned neck and lead the eye down the elegant sweep of its muscular body accentuated by a well-defined spine.

The 14 1/2in (37cm) long beast would have taken years to fashion from the large shapeless form of the river boulder it once was. Most comparative examples are in museum collections such as London's British Museum and Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum.

Consigned by a private vendor from the north of England who had purchased it from the renowned jade collector Somerset de Chair, its provenance, quality and condition saw it contested by London dealer Eskenazi, but it sold at a bullish £470,000 to a Hong Kong collector.