Lot 42 Lot 43 Lot 44 Lot 45 Lot 46 Lot 47 Lot 48

photographer E-Yaji.

The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 45 

Lot 45

Lot 45
Treasury 7, no. 1488

An inscribed coconut-shell ‘chrysanthemum’ snuff bottle

(‘Auspicious Persimmon’)

Coconut shell and bamboo; with a narrow convex lip and flat foot; made of two convex segments held together with five small bamboo pins; carved in the form of a persimmon, its calyx carved in relief at the shoulders; engraved on one main side in seal script Fugui shoukao (Riches, honour, and delight in long life), and on the other with two flowering chrysanthemums, with one seal of the artist, Zhenting
Zhenting, 1810–1900
Height: 5.15 cm
Mouth/lip: 0.61/0.8 cm
Stopper: jadeite; coral finial; stained walrus-ivory collar

Lot 45 Provenance:
Robert Hall (1987)

Hall 1987, no. 8
Treasury 7, no. 1488

Lot 45 Commentary
The Bloch Collection is well supplied with unusual examples of scholarly coconut shell bottles, among which are many exceptions to the standard types. They were mostly produced as individual works of art by the literati, even if some of the basic bottles may have been produced for them in commercial workshops as ‘blanks’, so we should expect the sort of constant variation that arises from the creativity of artists in a sophisticated culture. Like Sale 1, lot 16, this is made from two segments held together at least partially by small bamboo pins. In this unusual case, however, a standard snuff bottle neck has been added and the whole bottle transformed into the shape of what we take to be a persimmon by the addition of the calyx around the shoulders. ‘Persimmon’ (shi) can pun with the word for business or affairs (shi), so brings to mind the gracious phrase Shishi ruyi (May all your affairs be as you wish), which would tie in well with the hope for wealth, honour, and longevity expressed in the seal-script inscription on one main side. The chrysanthemums can be read as augmenting the desire for longevity.

We have not found anyone who used the name Zhenting, unfortunately. It is possible that the left and right sides of zhen should be seen as two characters, Qin and mu, but that does not produce an identifiable person or studio, either.

The stopper here is made from a linking bead, used either to join the two ends of prayer beads terminating in a tassel or to join dangling strings of beads to the main necklace (in court beads, for instance). The hole through the bead is disguised at one end by the collar and at the other by the finial. Such linking beads are often found converted to serve as stoppers for asymmetrically shaped bottles; although in this case the bottle does have a proper neck, it is so short and discreet that this type of stopper looks comfortable, regardless.

Lot 42 Lot 43 Lot 44 Lot 45 Lot 46 Lot 47 Lot 48


Hugh Moss | Contact Us