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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1027 

Lot 1027
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Lot 1027
Treasury 5, no.1016 (‘Nurturing Offspring’)

Opaque cinnabar-red glass, translucent white glass, and transparent sapphire-blue glass, the latter with scattered air bubbles of various sizes; with a flat lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a protruding flattened foot rim; carved as a double overlay with a continuous scene of two four-clawed dragons, one amidst formalized clouds emitting a stream of vapour from its mouth, in which is set a pearl, while the other rises from formalized waves into the vapour
Probably Yangzhou, 1830-1890
Height: 6.6 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.52/1.34 cm
Stopper: coral; gilt-silver collar

Kenneth Brown, Inc., La Jolla
Vad Jelton (prior to 1966)
Eric Young
Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 28 October 1993, lot 1065

Kleiner 1995, no. 184
JICSBS, Autumn 2000, p. 25, fig. 37
Treasury 5, no.1016

British Museum, London, June-October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July-November 1997

This rare and impressive bottle is decorated with one of the few designs featuring dragons to be found among the multiple-overlay output of the Yangzhou. Two others depict dragons together with carp, one in the Baur Collection in Geneva (Collections Baur 17 [1973]), the other in Hong Kong 1977, and one magnificent five-clawed creature appears on a bottle offered by Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 29 April 1992, lot 338 (previously illustrated in The Snuff Bottle Collector 6, April 1972). The imperial yellow examples (Sale 4, lot 96 and Franz 2011, p. 56, no. 364) suggest that the school produced bottles for the court, and the five-clawed dragon seems to confirm this. The dragons on the pair also featuring carp may be employed for their symbolic significance only, rather than to indicate any imperial connection, but this one may have been made for a member of the influential minority entitled to use the four-clawed dragon emblem. It was perhaps made for the court, since there are plentiful examples of four-clawed dragons that we may be sure formed part of the imperial production, and we may assume that they were made as gifts from the emperor to the ennobled.

Stylistically, the dragons here are distinctive, with tails of a leaf shape that does not seem to appear elsewhere in carved-glass dragon designs, and may be an element of this group when products were other than for the court. It may be significant that the only example from the Yangzhou displaying a five-clawed dragon features a different style of tail, more in keeping with the imperial norm, suggesting the school may have adjusted its dragon style for imperial orders.

This is a magnificent example of the multiple-overlay style of the school, with a rare dynamic colour combination, carved to high standards and in the usual folk-art style, but with well-defined detailing of the neck rim and the foot rim unusual for the group.


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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