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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 61 

Lot 61


Lot 61
Treasury 7, no.1718 (‘Mountain-Torrent Gathering’)

A carved coconut shell and wood 'landscape' snuff bottle

Coconut shell and wood; made from twelve segments (two for each main side, eight for the narrow sides, and one each for the foot and neck, the latter being the only piece made of wood), with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a flat footrim; carved on each main-side panel with a literati landscape scene, one side with five scholars in and around a country residence on either side of a stream in a hilly, rocky landscape with a pine and other trees and a small stone-slab bridge across the stream, the other with a scholar seated in an open pavilion on the bank of a river, gazing out at a long waterfall, the pavilion surrounded by a pine and other trees, the water on both sides carved mostly as a series of formalized waves, the panels with a plain frame; the narrow sides carved with a formalized floral diaper design; the foot engraved in regular script Qianlong nian zhi (Made during the Qianlong period)
The Yaji Master, Japan, 1854–1920
Height: 6.8 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.55/1.6 cm
Stopper: jadeite, coral collar

Emily Byrne Curtis (1986)
Robert Kleiner (1986)

Curtis 1982, no. 15
Treasury 7, no.1718

Newark Museum,
October–November 1982

The Yaji Master (see under Sale 2, lot 144), in common with many of his Japanese contemporaries, used several segmented construction methods to avoid hollowing a bottle from a solid block of material. A hollowed solid material is a much better longer-term practical container for snuff, but if the bottle is being made for a collector’s cabinet and will never hold snuff, segmented construction is perfectly acceptable and far more convenient. It is true that a bottle constructed of sections is always prone to splitting, particularly if organic substances are involved, but it is only after decades that these problems manifest themselves. (In most cases, they can be corrected by a skilled restorer.)

The artist has added an apocryphal Qianlong reign mark and, misunderstanding protocol in such matters, he has written it the wrong way on the foot. (See under lot 10 in this auction; another example is Sale 2, lot 144. What appear at first glance to be slanting cracks in the midsections of the narrow sides are no more than the original joins. Four separate sections were used to achieve a greater curve of the profile than could be achieved from a single piece of coconut shell. The cracks run through the frame of each panel, since it is carved from the same piece of material.

For a rare bottle by this carver combining carved coconut-shell panels with mother-of-pearl-inlaid narrow sides, see Hall 1989, no. 20.


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1139&exhibition=9&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |