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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1008 

Lot 1008
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Lot 1008
Treasury 1, no. 27 (‘Wrapped Qin White Jade ‘)

Flawless nephrite; very well hollowed, with a slightly concave lip, recessed foot, and flat footrim; carved as a brocade-wrapped qin, the front of the instrument shown on one side and the back on the other, with a double brocade enclosing both the bottle and the qin, the two sections loosely knotted over the instrument on each side, the brocade with a hexagonal lattice pattern and double-unit leiwen borders
Height: 5.96 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.86/2.11 and 2.02 cm (oval)
Stopper: jadeite; pearl finial

Robert Hall (1986)

Treasury 1, no. 27

The sculptural conception here is intriguing. The bottle and the qin are seen as one, the two sides of the instrument being shown on either side of the bottle and the brocade being wrapped around the whole thing. The bottle stands for the instrument and becomes not only a snuff bottle but a wrapped qin as well.

The brocade has been divided into two separate sections, allowing the loosely tied knots to be shown on the surface of each side of the instrument so that the brocade does not obscure it. This also allows for greater symmetry, with the bulge of the brocade spread across each narrow side and the ends of the knots hanging down on either side of the instrument as mirror images of each other. Even the knots themselves are primarily formal and abstract rather than realistic. The whole work of art is understated and does not come to life until in the hand. It is another of the more secret works of art that were meant for intimate, personal enjoyment, like Sale 6, lot 165.

Sculpturally this bottle is a delight. The unusual form, with its intriguingly flattened sphere, tapering slightly toward the base in the narrow profile, is very confident. It has the shape of a balloon flattened between two boards, achieving the apparently conflicting qualities of being both generous in its size and elegantly slim. The straight neck is then ideally suited to this form. If one imagines a flared neck on this shape, it would not be as satisfying. A flared neck would draw attention away from the centre of the bottle, which is the visual focal point.

The stopper is also a delightful match. It has an unusual Beijing shape, lacking the integral collar and finial, but it is still obviously drawn from the same source as Sale 6, lot 196, for instance. Emerald-green jadeite, with its brilliance and personality, is usually an excellent foil for the purity and subtlety of white nephrite, as are tourmaline, ruby, or coral.


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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