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photographer E-Yaji.
The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part X  
Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1 June 2015: Lot 20 

Lot 20

Lot 20
Treasury 7, no. 1596 (‘Pig at Rest’)

Transparent brown amber, with slightly darker, cloudy brown inclusions; well hollowed and carved in the form of a resting pig, the interior roughly hollowed
Length: 5.42 cm
Height: 3.6 cm
Mouth: 0.47 cm
Stopper: stained ivory

Sotheby’s, Hong Kong, 29 April 1992, lot 467
Robert Hall (1994)

Kleiner 1995, no. 346
British Museum flyer, 1995
Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996,no. 241
Zhao Lihong 1996, p. 107, top left
Treasury 7, no. 1596

British Museum, London, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997
Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, October 1996

This is one of the rare amber versions of the well-known group of white nephrite animal-form snuff bottles. The appearance of similar forms, designs, and styles in two such different substances may be an indication of imperial production.

Intriguingly, this and the other known amber animal bottles are similar insofar as they are roughly finished on the inside, although not as roughly as the gourd of Sale 9, lot 41.

Rough interiors have implications for dating. There was a mid-Qing preference for shiny interiors to snuff bottles, probably due to increasingly fastidious connoisseurship dictating that a shiny surface was superior for keeping the snuff in peak condition. This trend appears to have been one that caught on in a big way only in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

All the amber animals known, and several of the figures that can be dated to the late-Qianlong or Jiaqing periods by reference to ceramic equivalents, have rough interiors, along with the gourd of Sale 9, lot 41. This suggests that they date from the Jiaqing reign or before.

For related bottles, see the commentary for this bottle in Treasury 7.


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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