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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part VIII  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 26 May 2014: Lot 1019 

Lot 1019
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Lot 1019
Treasury 6, no. 1284 (‘Lotus Purse’)

Colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; in the form of a purse with a convex lip; painted under the glaze in the centre of each main side with an identical formalized design of a shou 壽 (‘longevity’) character within a circle from which lingzhi heads and Indian lotus emanate, with Indian lotus filling the surrounding areas and formalized waves at the bottom of each side; the neck with a further band of lingzhi; the lip glazed; the interior unglazed
Jingdezhen, 1790–1850
Height: 4.33 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.85/1.57 cm
Stopper: colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; made from half a bead

Sasson Collection, Brazil
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1997)

Treasury 6, no. 1284

Given the association of a pouch form with the pouches worn on court dress, this is a likely imperial form. In this case, the nature of the blue-and-white decoration is commensurate with a mid-Qing date, but there is a series of other bottles of this size and form with other decorative techniques that are easier to date, and they are from later in the Qing dynasty (see, for instance, JICSBS, Autumn 1996, p. 1, for a Robert Hall advertisement showing two bottles of the same shape from the mid- to late nineteenth century). The design may have been adopted for porcelain snuff bottles at some time during the late eighteenth century; it was repeated in various different versions for a century or more. The unglazed interior on the present example may suggest that the series of blue-and-white versions it represents are from earlier part of that range.

Among pouch-form porcelain snuff bottles this is one of the most impressive, owing to its formal integrity, bulging shape (more generous than the original pouches), and crisp, prominent lateral flange. These bottles appear to have been made in sets, which would accord with mid-Qing imperial production. (The lack of reign mark is, in this case, of no significance, since the shape does not provide a suitable place to inscribe one.)

This bottle has usable holes for cords, allowing it, if required, to be suspended from the belt rather than being carried in a pouch or in the hand, thus setting up an amusing visual paradox: the ‘imitation’ pouch is a functional pouch in its own right.


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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