Meriem Collection Sale One / 624

The Meriem Collection. Lot 624

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**A HAIR CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
1740-1880
Of compressed oval form with flat lip and recessed, concave foot, the sides with flat oval
panels, the stone suffused with a dense irregular pattern of tourmaline needles, the
stopper with pale amethyst cabachon and silver collar
5.7 cm. high
$2,000-3,000

P R O V E N A N C E :
Potter’s Gallery, Vancouver.

The needle-like crystalline inclusions in the material popularly known as “hair crystal” can be black
(tourmaline), green (actinolite) and coppery-red or silvery-gold (rutile). With the random
distribution of differently colored needles of varying thickness and length, “hair crystal” bottles
provide an infinite variety of exciting patterns. These patterns bear striking similarity to the
expressive linear brushstrokes employed by virtuoso calligraphers, therefore appealing to
connoisseurs of classical Chinese paintings. In particular, the clusters of crystals often
resemble popular motifs in Chinese painting, including densely-packed bamboo groves,
frosted reeds by the side of a lake in mid-winter, or the leaves of an orchid gently swaying
in the breeze.

The inclusions in this example are tourmaline and the “hairs” rising up from the base in
long diagonals with short offshoots is suggestive of bamboo swaying in the wind.
For a full discussion of the needle-like inclusions in a variety of crystal bottles, see Moss,
Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 2, Quartz, no. 193.
1740–1880

The Meriem Collection. Lot 624

Hugh Moss |