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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 39 

Lot 39

Lot 39
Treasury 7, no. 1579 (‘Oil Basket’)

Semi-transparent variegated brown amber; very well hollowed, with a flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a narrow, flat foot rim; carved to simulate a woven container enclosing the bottle up to the shoulders
Height: 6.18 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.6/2.1cm
Stopper: coral, carved with a coiled chi dragon; malachite finial; nephrite collar

Edmund F. Dwyer
Christie’s, London, 12 October 1987, lot 182

Treasury 7, no. 1554

Intriguingly, despite its likely early date, this particular example is one of those amber bottles that do not have a crizzled surface. Although crizzling denotes the natural passage of time, it is not inevitable. It is the result of continual changes in temperature and humidity, and if a piece of amber has not been subject to such changes, whether because it has lain in protected storage over a long period of time or because it has spent its existence within a temperate climate zone, it can remain without crizzling.

We suspect that a Qianlong period date is the most likely time of production for this example. Whenever it was made, its lovely broad weave and generous form make it one of the most impressive of the known amber basket-weave bottles. A somewhat similar bottle was illustrated in Kleiner 1997 no. 154.

The stopper is as spectacular as the bottle. Beneath a standard, old coral cabochon carved with a chi dragon and inset with a malachite finial is an extremely rare white nephrite collar, very carefully and finely formed to resemble the standard gilt-bronze collar of the eighteenth century, with its incurving lip leading to a raised circular panel as a podium for the cabochon.

One reason for believing that this group of bottles was imperial is that so many of them are in almost flawless brown Burmese amber (burmite), the kind that one would expect to be most highly valued and thus used at the court.


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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