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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part IX  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 24 November 2014: Lot 15 

Lot 15

Lot 15
Treasury 2, no. 197 (‘The Lingzhi-Damo Carnelian-Agate’)

Agate; well hollowed, with a flat lip and concave oval foot surrounded by a flat foot rim
Height: 5.43 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.71/1.71 cm
Stopper: stained quartzite; glass finial; silver collar

Galia Baylin
Sotheby’s, New York, 3 October 1980, lot 196
Gerd Lester (1986)

JICSBS, Autumn 1997, p. 5
Treasury 2, no. 197

Agate is the striped variety of chalcedony and can be found in a variety of colours, although combinations of grey, white, brown, or almost black are the most common. When bright red material is included, as here, it is sometimes referred to as ‘carnelian-agate,’ carnelian being the name for red chalcedony (see discussion under lot 26 in this auction).

The forces that create the environment for minerals to crystallize in the earth’s crust are immensely varied, allowing for often wide variation in the formation of minerals, even within the various families. This is a particularly striking example, not only because of its rich and unusual colour combination, including red with the more common white and grey-beige striations, but because of the unusual pattern of striations. Instead of being arranged around a single, roughly central point, there are two distinct concentric patterns, one superimposed upon the other, probably due to an irregularity in the geode wall setting up conflicting central spaces into which the micro-crystals could grow (for a specimen of red agate similar to this, showing how such material forms, see Yang Hanchen 1985, no. 78).

Formally, the bottle is of a fairly standard form that appears to have been popular during the mid-Qing period, though not exclusively. Frequently, agate bottles from material with concentric patterns resembling a thumb-print, which is also known for obvious reasons as ‘thumb-print agate’ (see Sale 6, lot 114). The Chinese term for this pattern is chansi manao 纏絲瑪瑙 (‘silk-wrapping agate).


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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