Meriem Collection Sale One / 686

The Meriem Collection. Lot 686

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Molded in the form of a recumbent caparisoned elephant painted in pale iron red with
legs tucked under the body and head turned to one side, with a gilt-decorated iron-red
zun set on a saddle resting on a saddle-blanket decorated in famille rose enamels, secured
by tassel-hung straps that extend under the tail and the chest of the beast, original
enameled porcelain stopper
3.7 cm. high

P R O V E N A N C E :
Hugh Moss Ltd.

This is a superb example of one of the earliest animal molds known. Several molds were used
during the same period with slight variations, some of them bearing howdahs instead of zun. A
bottle possibly from the same mold but with the elephant left without enamels, was sold in these
rooms, Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J & J Collection, Part II, 30 March 2005, lot 33.
Bottles from different molds are illustrated in Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Fernhill Park
Collection, no. 3; B. Stevens, The Collector’s Book of Snuff Bottles, nos. 308 and 310; and in
Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 6, p. 41, C38, from the Marquess of Exeter Collection. There is another
very close in form but from a different mold in Passion Mandchoue. Flacons à Tabac, Paris: Musée
Guimet, Réunion des Musée Nationaux, 1991, p. 35. Another, which has retained its original
stopper and is identical to the present example, was sold at the Hong Kong Auctioneers & Estate
Agency, 12 June 1993, lot 313.

Many of these early molded porcelain bottles were unmarked, but others with Qianlong marks
allow us to date them. They were a popular Imperial group from the mid-Qing period, reaching
a zenith between the 1780s and the first decade of the nineteenth century.

The combination of a vase (ping) and an elephant (xiang) provides a homonym for the rebus
taiping youxiang (“May there be a peaceful reign”).

The Meriem Collection. Lot 686

Hugh Moss |