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photographer E-Yaji.

The Mary and George Bloch Collection: Part III  
Bonham's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2011: Lot 26 

Lot 26

Lot 26
Treasury 7, no. 1576

A carved root amber ‘five Buddhist lions’ snuff bottle

(‘Five Lions’)

Opaque, variegated yellow-ochre and brown amber (of the variety known as ‘root amber’); of irregular, pebble form with a flattened, irregular oval lip and concave, irregular foot; carved with a continuous design of five Buddhist lions playing with two beribboned, brocaded balls
Probably imperial, 1750–1850
Height: 6.85 cm
Mouth: 0.61 cm
Stopper: malachite; bone collar

Lot 26 Provenance:
Robert Hall (1987)

Hall 1987, no. 5
Kleiner, Yang, and Shangraw 1994, no. 274
Treasury 7, no. 1576

Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
National Museum of Singapore, November 1994–January 1995

Lot 26 Commentary

Although there is no particular proof that this is imperial, both amber and pebble forms were frequent courtly products, and Buddhist lions were a popular imperial subject on snuff bottles. A remarkably similar bottle, also a pebble of similar material but of a different colour (with nine lions) is in Souksi 2000, no. 64; it is equally likely to be a palace product. This combination of lovely, rich colour and a very well-composed, busy design of Buddhist lions evenly spread around the pebble shape makes for a particularly spectacular root-amber bottle. The pebble form was probably dictated by the original lump of amber and serves as a delightful counterpart to the even formality of the relief carving.

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