Meriem Collection Sale One / 606

The Meriem Collection. Lot 606

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Click on the image below for a close up

The dried, hollowed gourd of slightly irregular bulbous form, ivory stem-form stopper
3.2 cm. high,5.1 cm. across

P R O V E N A N C E :
Hugh Moss Ltd.
E X H I B I T E D :
Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.

This bottle, with its natural form and patina, is perfectly balanced by the well-patinated stalk-form
ivory stopper - possibly the original. It is rare to find a gourd snuff bottle with original stopper. For
another gourd and ivory snuff bottle with original stopper, see the example from the J & J
collection, sold in these rooms, 30 March 2005, lot 43 (also illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang,
The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 274).

The gourd is grown widely in a variety of shapes and sizes, and its dried shell provides a very light,
wood-hard, impervious container. Zhao Zhiqian, an early snuff bottle connoisseur, mentions gourd
snuff bottles in his Yonglu Xianjie (see Richard John Lynn, “Researches Done During Spare Time
into the Realm of Yong Lu, God of the Nose”, JICSBS, Autumn 1991, p. 19) as not being for use:
“Gourd bottles can merely be placed on the table.” It is likely that at the time of Zhao’s writing
in the late nineteenth century, gourd bottles were rarely used, but functional examples were
apparently made in earlier times (see Emily Byrne Curtis, “Snuff and Chinese Snuff Bottles.
An Historical view” in J. Ford, Chinese Snuff Bottles. The Edward Choate O’Dell Collection, p. 22,
note 23, where the author tells us of a gift made to the Portuguese Ambassador by the Qianlong
Emperor in 1752 of a molded gourd bottle). It is unlikely that the Qianlong Emperor would have
been giving away purely decorative snuff bottles in the mid-eighteenth century. Furthermore, there
is also evidence of the production of gourd bottles at the Palace Workshops at an early date. In
particular, there are four Qianlong-dated molded gourd snuff bottles still in the Imperial Collection,
see Snuff Bottles in the Collection of the National Palace Museum, nos. 409-12.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 606

Hugh Moss |