Reflected Glory in a Bottle

Chinese portrait snuff bottles, those miniature photographic likenesses, skillfully painted on the inside of tiny bottles, are the subject of this fasci- nating book "Reflected Glory in a Bottle." Who were these people? Did they have a special place in China's history? Why were their portraits painted on snuff bottles? All of these questions are consid- ered as the author takes us through the web of convoluted relationships during China's most tumultuous period; 1890-1930. As China struggled to move into the modern age we meet her famous statesmen, Western educated ministers and diplomats; men who guided China as she tried to adopt modern democratic institutions. We witness the first Presidents of the republic vying for supremacy over the colorful warlords. All of this is surveyed using the amazing portrait snuff bottles as a point of departure. A chapter on the Peking theater is included. This presents not only some of the leading actors of the day, but also highlights their contributions to the life and culture of China. And lastly, a chapter with the unknowns, those bottles which defied identifi- cation, a problem to tantalize the reader. If someone should come forward with the answers, it would be a most satisfying postscript to Emily Byrne Curtis' "Reflected Glory in a Bottle." Dust jacket illustration: An interior-painted portrait snuff bottle of Wang Huai -ch'ing. (Coll.TerryMullin)