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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1066 

Lot 1066
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Lot 1066
Treasury 2, no. 290 (‘Live Long and Prosper’)
HK$100,000

Chalcedony; very well hollowed; with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding flat foot rim with rounded edges; the natural markings in the stone edited on one side to create a scene of Shou Lao riding on a stag and releasing from his fingertip or from something held in his hand a stream of vapour from which five bats fly, one with what may be intended as a ribbon tied in a bow in its mouth, all set on a rocky ground
Official School, 1750–1850
Height: 6.3 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.88 and 1.80 cm (oval)
Stopper: coral; vinyl collar

Illustration:
Watercolour by Peter Suart

Provenance:
Jade House (Hong Kong, 1985)

Published:
Treasury 2, no. 290

Here we have an unusual very stark contrast between the chalcedony ground and a thin, almost black plane of colour in a pale grey matrix, typically edited extensively to provide an extremely rare variation on a rebus wishing for three common blessings: fu 福 (blessings), lu 祿 (emolument or wealth) and shou 壽 (longevity), represented by the bats (bianfu 蝙蝠), the stag (lu鹿), and the God of Longevity, respectively. There are five bats, a rebus for the Five Blessings, which may refer to either long life, riches, health, moral character, and living out one’s allotted span or long life, riches, high social position, contentment, and numerous sons and grandsons. The five bats emerge in a cloud of vapour from Shou Lao’s hand or from something he holds. Although nothing is clearly shown in his hand, five bats are often shown issuing from a waisted gourd, so perhaps the presence of such a vessel is implied.

An intriguing aspect of this bottle is the brown, roughly circular mark at the neck. Many of these silhouette bottles have similar marks in the material: Sale 1, lot 49 and lots 1003 and 1091 in this auction are examples. With a flat plane of darker colour disposed across the face of the bottle, it becomes difficult to eliminate a mark of this kind at the neck. The marks are often roughly circular because the intersection of the cylinder of the neck and the slightly tipped plane of the dark material tends to produce a curved edge.

 

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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