Cinnabar-red and yellow-ochre lacquer on bronze; with a flat lip and no functional foot; carved with two layers of colour, with red on yellow-ochre with an oval panel resembling a turtle's carapace on each main side with a series of sixty identical, formalized shou (longevity) characters on a ground of fylfot, or wan (ten-thousand) diaper design, framed with a band of continuous leiwen (thunder pattern), the narrow sides and base with further vertical, double-unit leiwen giving way as the shoulders widen to modified horizontal ones, the neck with a band of formalized lotus-petal design; the lip, inner neck, and interior, bronze
Probably imperial, 17301820 Height: 6.4 cm Mouth/lip: 0.6/1.8 cm Stopper: silver, chased with a formalized floral design above a rope design Condition: multiple chips to the shou characters on both main sides and to the surrounding formalized design, but all relatively small and not obtrusive; some scratching to the gilt metal lip, but the gilding in good condition generally
Provenance: Rare Art, New York (prior to circa 1977) Mr & Mrs Edmund Prentis III White Wings Collection Robert Kleiner (1998)
Published: JICSBS, December 1977, front cover Kleiner 1997, no. 148 Treasury 7, no. 1543
Commentary: One of many indications of an imperial origin for the group of lacquer bottles introduced in Treasury 7, under no. 1538, is found in several examples of similar design and shape. Multiple production was standard for bottles made at or for the court as such large quantities were required for both use and distribution as gifts. Another example almost identical to the present bottle is in Stevens 1976, no. 760 ( now in the Denis Low Collection, Kleiner 1999, no. 210), while two more are known: one in the Monimar Collection, Lawrence 1996, no. 216, now in the Franz Collection; and Li Jiufang 2002, no. 397, still in the imperial collection. Another is in the Marquess of Exeter Collection, Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 6, p. 14, no. O.29.
They are the equivalents of a group of imperial bamboo-veneer bottles, one of which also remains in the imperial collection in Beijing (op cit., no. 385, where the unusual, simple and repeated formalization of the shou character is identical to the present example). The number of shou characters is intended to be read separately, since sixty years represents a full cycle of the jiazi (cyclical dating system) and is considered a notable achievement and celebrated as a major milestone in life. The symbolism of shou characters equalling this auspicious number is augmented by the turtle's carapace shape of the panels (the turtle being a standard symbol of longevity) and the ground design of wan symbols, or fylfots, which stand for 'ten thousand' and are also a wish for longevity, albeit one rather more optimistic than hoping for a mere cycle of sixty years. The band around the neck here might not be easily recognized but for the same band around the shoulders of Treasury 7, no. 1540. It is likely to be formalized lotus petals and resembles the standard base of Buddhist figures produced in gilt-bronze for the court from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The lotus (lian) petals function as a visual pun for the idea of continuity (lian). At first glance, the bottle illustrated by Stevens, also from the Prentis Collection and obviously from the same series as this one, appears to have the leiwen pattern of the frame running in the opposite direction, but closer examination reveals that the photograph is reversed by mistake, since the wan symbols also have their crampons in the wrong direction. It may be that these bottles were made for an imperial birthday, but it is just as likely that they were made as a series to distribute as gifts on the sixtieth birthday of any member of the imperial family or official the emperor cared to honour in this way.
來源： Rare Art， 紐約（1977年以前） Mr and Mrs Edmund Prentis III White Wings 珍藏 Robert Kleiner (1998) 文獻： 《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1977年，封面 Kleiner 1997, 編號148 Treasury 7， 編號1543