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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 41 

Lot 41

Lot 41
Treasury 5, no. 919 (‘Blue Manchu’)

Semi-transparent sapphire-blue and colourless glass with scattered small air bubbles, some elongated; with a flat lip and protruding flat foot with a tapering profile; carved as a single overlay on each main side with an inscription in Manchu script divided between the two, followed on one side by two square seals in positive seal script Song, and xuan, (‘Pine Pavilion’), and on the other with two similar seals, Ru, and yu (‘Like jade’), the narrow sides with mask-and-ring handles
Attributable to the imperial glassworks, 1770-1800
Height: 7.8 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.60/1.45 cm
Stopper: glass, carved with a coiled chi dragon

Sotheby’s, London, 2 July 1984, lot 191
Guo’an Collection
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 30 October 2000, lot 510

JICSBS, Winter 2000, p. 31, fig. 1
Treasury 5, no. 919

A number of features suggest a date for this bottle in the latter part of the Qianlong period. It exhibits an upper neck rim in the overlay colour that is likely to be a feature of the period, as is the crystal-like, colourless glass ground. We may assume that originally it also had a blue footrim that was removed to repair damage, resulting in an unusual narrow, protruding foot in the ground colour, quite out of keeping with any glass overlay bottle of the type and period. It is a rare and important bottle, however, and thus carries the scars of its accident bravely.

In Treasury 4, pp. 13 and 14, we discussed a small group of Manchu-inscribed inside-painted snuff bottles that, in relation to the present glass bottle (which we cited), we believe to have been produced at court at some time around 1800, and we proposed a link between them. A third bottle, similarly inscribed and inside-painted, has subsequently come to light and is now in the Franz Collection. We also cited two further unquestionably imperial bottles, probably also of the mid-Qing period, bearing Manchu inscriptions, one of which is in this collection (Treasury 2, no. 252). Why the court should suddenly have decided to inscribe snuff bottles with its native language during the mid-Qing period remains a mystery, but that seems the most likely period for them all. Further confirmation is supplied here by a ground plane that is slightly less than perfect. This bottle retains a suspicion of the carving marks, a feature we believe to have crept into court carvings during the second half of the Qianlong reign.

The couplet reads: Hacingga ilha jaksaci alha bulha. Geren gasha guwendeci jiji jaja. Which may be translated as: ‘All [kinds of] flowers, when they bloom [become] all colours. Many birds, when they make themselves heard, [create a great] noise’.


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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