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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 November 2013: Lot 1 

Lot 1

Lot 1
Treasury 1, no.15 ('Reign-of-Peace Pebble')

Nephrite of pebble material; carved in the form of an elephant standing on formalized clouds, its tassled saddle-blanket decorated with a lingzhi design surrounded by a diaper-pattern border, the saddle of formalized lingzhi-head form with two archaistic ‘C’-scroll motifs
Height: 6.35 cm
Mouth: 0.50 cm
Stopper: tourmaline; gilt-silver collar

Hugh M. Moss Ltd. (Hong Kong, 1987)

Treasury 1, no.15

Musee de la Miniature, Montelimar, 2000

This extraordinary pebble material seems to have had a greenish-white core
surrounded by black, with a rich, dark brown skin. The head of the elephant is picked out in the paler material, but otherwise the carved design floats above and independent of the dynamic diagonals of darker colours. The bottle is otherwise fairly formal and divided horizontally roughly at the centre line with the elephant above and the clouds below, the saddle blanket falling on both sides to emphasize the formality. The white head of the beast also picks up the diagonal, as does the brown skin it faces.

Without the snuff bottle form, the carving and degree of wear on this jade would suggest a possible Ming date, and even a Yuan date would not be out of the question, for that was a period when cloud supports for animals and figures were popular. The form is unmistakably that of a snuff bottle, however. If it had been a miniature carving from an earlier period, the pebble would probably have been used differently and not be stood precariously on its narrowest point. It is far more likely that it is a late Qianlong carving, possibly from the court, where the caparisoned elephant was a standard subject during the Qianlong period.

The wear, softening the surface and lending it a natural glow from the gradual seepage of tiny quantities of natural oil from the hand, is impressive. Together with the exciting material, it results in a bottle of considerable presence and charm.


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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