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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part V  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2012: Lot 26 

Lot 26


Lot 26
Treasury 1, no. 64 (‘The Belfort Pomegranate’)

A white nephrite pomegranate-form snuff bottle

Nephrite; carved in the form of a pomegranate growing from a severed branch with two blossoms and leaves
Possibly Imperial, 1750–1830
Height: 7.75 cm
Mouth: 0.55 cm
Stopper: jadeite, carved as a leafy stem

Hugh Moss (London, 1981)
Belfort Collection (1986)

Snuff Bottles of the Ch’ing Dynasty 1978, no. 163
Kleiner 1987, no. 35
Treasury 1, no. 64

Hugh M. Moss Ltd., London, September 1974
Hong Kong Museum of Art, October–December 1978
Sydney L. Moss Ltd., London, October 1987
Creditanstalt, Vienna, May–June 1993

A carving such as this, if it was not originally a snuff bottle, could have served as a paper-weight, a small sculpture, an auspicious gift, or even a space-filler in a curio box for the emperor, or, of course, it could have been all of these things at once. The calyx of the fruit certainly accommodates the mouth of the snuff bottle quite comfortably, making it impossible to be certain of the original carver’s intentions.

As a jade carving it is outstanding, with masterly artistic conception. The fruit has been left entirely plain and finished to perfection, with a lovely, even polish. This polish may offer a hint as to its date of production, since it may reflect an Imperial taste for more highly polished jade carvings subsequent to the importing of large numbers of Hindustan jade carvings after 1760.

As a rule, the pomegranate is depicted with part of the skin peeled away to reveal the many seeds inside which were, after all, the source of the symbolism. Here, however, artistic conception appears to have governed the more obvious levels of symbolism.


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Hugh Moss |