This ivory piece, carved in mainland China circa 1935, depicts the myth of the Dragon King’s Daughter, who is meeting her lover, a young scholar attended by a young girl with a lantern. The princess is surrounded by a column of swirling clouds from which four dragons emerge. The summit supports an intricately carved sphere representing the heavens, which is comprised of 38 concentric layers. This piece took three years to carve – two years for the sphere and one for the pedestal.
This sculpture was created before the treaty banning trade in elephant ivory was enacted in the mid-1970s. GIA helps to uphold the ivory trade ban, using this carving as an educational tool to train gemology students and others, including law enforcement officers, to distinguish between natural ivory and its imitations.