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photographer E-Yaji.

The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 41 

Lot 41

Lot 41
Treasury 1, no. 6

A white and russet nephrite pebble-material snuff bottle

(‘Yinyang Pebble’)

Nephrite of pebble material; very well hollowed, with a recessed foot surrounded by a slightly irregular, flat footrim
Height: 5.15 cm
Mouth: 0.4 cm
Stopper: coral, carved as an opening blossom; gilt-metal collar

Lot 41 Provenance:
Sotheby’s, New York, 26 November 1991, lot 98
Bellis Collection
Robert Kleiner (1992)

Kleiner 1993, no. 73
Kleiner 1995, no. 71
Treasury 1, no. 6

British Museum, June–October 1995
Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997

Lot 41 Commentary
Among the jades, the Blochs were always attracted to pebble material that uses the skin to good advantage, whether carved or, as in this case, left to speak eloquently for itself. This is a pure pebble bottle in every sense of the word—it is of the material and of the shape. The original pebble was obviously quite small and covered with a richly textured skin of lovely colour that the carver has utilized so that it completely covers one side of the bottle, while the reverse is wholly of the core material. The form and size are dictated by the stone, and, because of this, the irregular bottle fits one particular position in the hand so ideally that it must, surely, have been part of the original idea. With the skin facing the viewer, the thumb naturally fits into the indented curve at the upper left shoulder, while the fingers are perfectly accommodated by a balancing indentation on the opposite shoulder of the other side. These balanced indentations are apparent from a view looking down on the top of the bottle where the brown and white skin acts as a yinyang symbol. From this evocative viewpoint, the central hole of the mouth functions symbolically as the two opposing circles usually found in this symbol and acting as indications that in all of the opposites represented by it, an element of the other is to be found. The concept of the interrelatedness of all phenomena in Daoist philosophy is thus evoked in a very subtle way by this apparently non-symbolic, undecorated bottle.

Another intriguing and unusual feature is that, despite the eccentric form, the view from one side shows nothing but skin, while that from the other shows nothing but core material.

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