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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IV  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 28 November 2011: Lot 155 

Lot 155


Lot 155
Treasury 6, no.1320 (‘Official Transport’)

A 'famille-rose' enamelled porcelain 'Manchu officials' snuff bottle

Famille-rose enamels on colourless glaze on porcelain; with a slightly convex lip and flat foot; painted on one main side with an official, a flintlock musket slung over his back, seated on a horse and leading a small dog, and on the other with another official leading a Bactrian camel laden with a quiver of arrows, three more muskets, and a wrapped bundle of belongings; the foot inscribed in iron-red seal script Daoguang nian zhi (‘Made during the Daoguang period’); the lip glazed; the inner neck and interior unglazed
Imperial kilns, Jingdezhen, 1821–1850
Height: 6.16 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.7/1.77 cm
Stopper: plastic; vinyl collar

Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 29 April 1992, lot 410

Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 153
Treasury 6, no.1320

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

This compressed ovoid form with a cylindrical neck and a simple flat foot was another of the many standard forms of the Daoguang imperial kilns. The amusing subject matter was also a standard design, if one of the rarer ones, and is found from the reign on different shapes of bottle and with minor differences in composition. The subject seems to show two forms of transport common to the north of China and, therefore, among the Manchus: the camel and the horse. Apparently the rider is equipped for hunting, with his flintlock rifle strapped to his back and a small dog on a lead following along behind him. It may seem unusual to see a Manchu hunter without a bow, but by the Daoguang period things had begun to change considerably, and as rifles became more efficient and easier to use, they were adopted more readily.

The official leading his laden camel on the other main side is more traditionally armed, if the quiver of arrows tied to the far side of his saddle is anything to go by. Both are officials of some sort, as they wear the standard hat complete with a peacock feather and gold-painted hat finial, suggesting they are of either the seventh or eighth rank, which seems confirmed by the lack of the ‘eye’ in the peacock feather, which was confined to use by the first six ranks of the hierarchy of officials (see Dickinson and Wrigglesworth 1990, pp. 106 and 113). It is not unexpected to find officials depicted in what appear to be private pursuits. There were thousands of them entitled to wear these hats, and any painting of the emperor and his court during the Qing dynasty reveals vast numbers of them, including large numbers of palace eunuchs.

Of all the recorded versions of this subject, this is one of the most charming. It is in kiln condition. For a different version, still in the imperial collection in Beijing, in which the gun-toting equestrian and his dog are heading in the opposite direction and an equestrian official on the other side is shooting with a bow and arrow at a deer, see Li Jiufang 2002, no. 341.


Easy link to this page: http://www.e-yaji.com/auction/photo.php?photo=1205&exhibition=9&ee_lang=eng


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Hugh Moss |