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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VI  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 27 May 2013: Lot 198 

Lot 198

Lot 198
Treasury 5, no. 883 (‘Dancing Dragons’)

Transparent ruby-red and semi-transparent milky white glass, both with a scattering of small air bubbles; with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding rounded footrim; carved as a single overlay with a continuous design of nine chi dragons
Height: 5.78 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.78/1.31 cm
Stopper: glass, carved with a coiled chi dragon; pearl finial

Robert Hall (1999)

Treasury 5, no. 883

This fat little bottle is decorated with some of the most unusual and certainly most joyous chi dragons in the entire snuff-bottle world. Nine beasts are distributed evenly across the white ground, all being relatively short and having appropriately short, chubby legs. Apart from the delightful contrast between the milky white ground and the impeccable carving, the personality of these creatures is the element that elevates this bottle into such a class of its very own.

The decoration suggests an imperial bottle, but the imperial glassworks, while the most likely origin, is not the only one. We are inclined to date this to the Qianlong period—perhaps the second half—but it could also be an exceptional bottle from a little later. The gorgeous little imperial stopper is probably not the original, since there is already a fully auspicious complement of nine dragons on the bottle and no additional one was needed. It is nevertheless a lovely early stopper, probably made at the court to fit an imperial bottle and thus appropriately capped with a pearl. The vinyl collar would hardly have been an original feature, since the gramophone is among the few things not invented by the Chinese, and such collars were fashioned out of gramophone records.


This is not the Sotheby’s sale catalogue. This is a product of Hugh Moss for the purposes of this website. For the catalogue details please refer to Sotheby’s website or request a copy of a printed sale catalogue from Sotheby’s


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