Meriem Collection Sale One / 697

The Meriem Collection. Lot 697

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Of flattened spherical form with flat lip and recessed foot surrounded by a footrim, each
side carved through the pale red layer to the transparent ground with a circular panel,
one enclosing a scene of two four-clawed dragons with a flaming pearl, one descending
from clouds as the other erupts from the roiling waves below, on the reverse a fenghuang
is shown in flight above its mate seen standing on a rock amidst bamboo and vapor, the
narrow sides carved with a bat suspending a shou character and an endless knot, the foot
carved in relief with the two-character name in seal script Yeqiao (Coconut Bridge),
stained agate stopper with silver collar
6 cm. high

As the dragon, a benign and auspicious creature, symbolizes the Emperor, the fenghuang, a
composite of several different real birds representing the ultimate bird, became the symbol of
the Empress. The motif of dragon and fenghuang was also auspicious, creating a rebus longfeng
chengxiang (“the dragon and fenghuang present auspiciousness”). Because of this symbolism,
the combination was commonly used on gifts and paraphernalia at weddings. Four-clawed
dragons were produced by the Court to be distributed to the ennobled, entitled to the emblem,
whereas a five-clawed dragon would have been reserved for an Imperial wedding. The
combination of fenghuang and bamboo (zhu) stand for abundance (fengzu).

The rocks and waves provide another reference to popular aspirations. The rocks stand for
mountains (shan) and the waves represent the sea (hai), and together express a wish for the
immortality of the Southern Mountains, and happiness as vast as the Eastern Sea.
Both narrow sides are carved with bats suspending shou characters as well as eternal knots,
one of the Eight Buddhist Symbols, reinforcing the idea of longevity.

A red overlay bubble-suffused glass snuff bottle of very similar form, also with a circular panel of
decoration, is illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J
Collection, no. 364.

The Meriem Collection. Lot 697

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