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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part V  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2012: Lot 35 

Lot 35

 
   

Lot 35
Treasury 1, no. 146 (‘The Yitang Pebble Jade’)
HK$52,500

An inscribed nephrite pebble-material snuff bottle

Nephrite of pebble material; well hollowed, with a recessed foot; the foot incised in seal script Yitang
1780–1833
Height: 5.78 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.62/1.55 cm
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

Provenance:
Hugh M. Moss, Ltd. (1987)

Published:
Treasury 1, no. 146

Yitang is an alternate name of Nayancheng (1763 – 1833), who was a poet, calligrapher and statesman with a long and varied career. He was well educated, having passed three levels of official examinations between 1779 and 1789, the last conferring on him the title of jinshi. By coincidence, Nayancheng was indirectly involved with the only recorded suicide in Chinese history where the instrument of death was a snuff bottle. As a sub-chancellor of the Grand Secretariat he was, in late 1802, ordered to proceed to Guangzhou to conduct an enquiry into the conduct of the Governor General of that city. When he reached Guangzhou on December 18, he is reported to have found that the Governor General had already committed suicide by swallowing a snuff bottle!

It is possible that this bottle was made for Nayancheng while he was serving in the oasis region of Kashgar and Yarkand at various times in the early decades of the nineteenth century. This area, at the south-western edge of the Tarim Baisn, was an important nephrite-producing region. It is also possible that he took some jade home when he returned from the frontier. However, attractive as they are, neither of these hypothetical scenarios can be proven, and Nayancheng certainly could have had his snuff bottle made in Beijing or other places.

 

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