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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 35 

Lot 35

Lot 35
Treasury 1, no. 151 (‘Prince Ding’s Moss-Jade’)

Nephrite of pebble material; extremely well hollowed, with a recessed, elongated oval foot incised in regular script Xingyouheng Tang 行有恒堂 (‘Hall of Constancy’)
Height: 5.92 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.43/2.02 and 1.8 cm (one flattened edge)
Stopper: tourmaline; vinyl collar

Sotheby’s, London, 6 and 9 May 1986, lot 317

Treasury 1, no. 151

Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

The mark here is very similar both in style and execution to that on lot 90 in this auction, where the incising is not partially hidden beneath pigment and can be seen to be correct for the period. Prince Ding (定郡王, Zaiquan 載銓 1794 – 1854) used a variety of scripts and methods of inscription on his hardstone snuff bottles and other works of art, and this was obviously one of the possible alternatives.

The mark’s appearance on this bottle and Sale 7, lot 47, which have a standard form for the mid-Qing period (Sale 3, lot 82 is an unmarked example with a similar form) allows two possible conclusions. Either the prince had a liking for the type and bought earlier bottles to be inscribed with his name, or the type was still being made during the first half of the nineteenth century, when he would have been commissioning bottles. The two possibilities are perhaps equally likely.

The aspect of this bottle that makes it unique, not only among jade snuff bottles of this group, but among the entire output of Chinese jade carving throughout history, is the material from which it is carved. It is the only known example of this group of nephrite bottles with a black skin and the only piece from the entire history of jade carving where the skin could reasonably be described as dendritic. Its quality is remarkably like that of dendritic chalcedony, with a fine network of tree- or moss-like markings included naturally in the stone.


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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