Meriem Collection Sale One / 693

The Meriem Collection. Lot 693

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Of flattened oval form with flat lip and recessed foot surrounded by a footrim, the
narrow sides carved with chi dragons grasping sprigs of lingzhi in their mouths, each
sprig extending across the top of the otherwise plain main sides, tourmaline stopper
with gilt-metal collar
7.6 cm. high

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

This bottle is one of a group, mostly of this color but sometimes in blue, nearly always carved with
chi dragons on the narrow sides. They are distinguished by being carved from solid blocks of glass
rather than being blown, hence the heavier weight, indicating that they were made to imitate
hardstones, in this case beryl.

Following the massive influx of minerals from Xinjiang province after 1759, there was a great
demand for the wide range of semi-precious stones mined in the region. However, the material
that was large enough for a snuff bottle was always flawed, prompting imitations in glass which
could be made to look like flawless stone. The eighteenth-century Court took pleasure in all things
novel, which included the concept of teasing the eye by recreating more precious materials in
glass. Because of the versatility of glass as a material and the multitude of colors that were easily
produced, it was often used to simulate such material as jade, jadeite, colored hardstones, realgar
and amber, among others.

Although chi dragons were the usual subject matter for this series of bottles, the present example
is unusual in that the dragons are linked by lingzhi sprigs. See M. Hughes, The Blair Bequest.
Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Princeton University Art Museum, p. 111, no. 121, where a similar
green glass bottle is illustrated; H. Moss, Snuff Bottles of China, pp. 114-5, no. 237; and Zhongguo
Biyanhu Zhenshang, no. 48, for comparable examples. See also Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury
of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, no. 836, for an example in amethyst-purple glass and a
further discussion on this group of bottles. Another pear-shaped amethyst glass bottle from the
Ko Family Collection was sold in our London rooms, 14 June 1971, lot 35. The courtly chi dragon,
in addition to the style of carving, strongly suggests an Imperial attribution.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 693

Hugh Moss |