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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 89 

Lot 89

Lot 89
Treasury 1, no. 118 (‘Jade-Bones Ice-Flesh’)

Flawless nephrite; extremely well hollowed, with a slightly concave foot; carved with a continuous design of a blossoming prunus tree growing from the base of a convoluted rock formation, inscribed in relief seal script Yugu bingji (‘Jade bones, ice flesh’)
Attributable to Suzhou, 1660–1770
Height: 5.11 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.80/1.61 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Zhirou Zhai Collection
Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (Hong Kong, 1993)

Kleiner 1995, no. 63
Treasury 1, no. 118

British Museum, June–October 1995

This is another snuff bottle of the well-established first phase of Suzhou snuff-bottle production that can be considered as a candidate for an early-Qing date (see discussion under Sale 2, lot 39). It might be a work of the late seventeenth century, although it is equally likely to date from the first half of the eighteenth. This flawless white nephrite was favoured for small carvings at Suzhou in the late-Ming and early- Qing dynasties

The subject was a favourite there, as well. The prunus was associated with the scholar and the integrity expected from the scholar class in their administrative duties as well as their private lives (see Moss, Graham, and Tsang 1993, p. 76). The inscription yugu bingji (‘Jade bones, ice flesh’) is a poetic expression used to describe the delicate appearance as well as the frost-resistant nature of the prunus. It also stands as a metaphor for the incorruptible character that should be found in a perfect gentleman.


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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