Quartz (crystal and agate); very well hollowed with a concave lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim
17401860 Height: 6.01 cm Mouth/lip: 0.70/1.99 cm Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar Condition: Material: the crystalline areas with many icy flaws showing as polished, crazing wherever it comes to the surface, but none of it due to subsequent damage. Bottle: three miniscule nibbles to inner lip, one partly polished chip to upper neck (0.6 x 0.3 polished area); not obtrusive, but visible to the naked eye; one area of the footrim with some chipping partly polished out, but not obtrusive. General relative condition: reasonably good
Provenance: Robert Hall (1992)
Published: JICSBS, Autumn 1997, p. 5 Treasury 2, no. 188, and spine illustration
Commentary: For the various different kinds of quartz, see Treasury 2, no. 188.
In this unusual piece of quartz, crystal combines with striated and dendritic agate with an unusual range of colours. The dendritic markings are so dense they have almost become the opaque, solidly coloured variety of crypto-crystalline quartz known as jasper. It is a striking combination of various members of the large quartz family.
There is a long-standing tradition in China of nature reverence. This was transformed by the aesthetic elite into a love of markings or shapes in natural materials that resembled elements of the real, or spirit world. Gnarled roots resembling a ruyi sceptre, animals or human figures; marble with powerful natural landscape designs, and rocks that resembled mountain ranges, dancing figures or floating clouds were all highly valued. Bringing out the natural designs in these materials was the perfect expression of a belief in the need to maintain the vital harmony between humanity and nature. In this example the dynamic natural pattern in the material has been very carefully aligned around the bottle so that it can be read as a landscape. The continuous surface of a rounded, three dimensional form also allows the landscape to be continuous as if it were a handscroll, one of the most sophisticated of Chinese painting formats and one with which the original audience for such bottles as this would, of course, have been very familiar.
The foreground of rocks and trees gives way to either floating mist or the bank of a river. The mountainous ground beyond then gives way in turn to the sky above. It could also be read as mist intersecting a towering cliff-face. How it is read is incidental. Part of the joy of the more abstract designs in these revered natural materials was their range of possible interpretations. With each fresh perspective, the whole scene is transformed into another, equally powerful scene. One only has to see the thin white stripe above the greenish-blue area of the stone around the base as a rushing mountain torrent, to completely change both the scene and its scale. Close observation in the hand also reveals the complexity of less obvious but equally intriguing markings in the crystal areas, creating a whole new range of possible readings of the subject. It was the Chinese delight in the interpretive potential of such materials that made quartz so popular a stone for the snuff-bottle maker, encouraging the manufacture of large numbers of plain, undecorated bottles.
This game of visual interpretation was an important aspect of the snuff-bottle arts with a wide range of materials and relates to the concept of ink-play in the Chinese painting tradition (see discussion under Treasury 2, no. 274).
1740～1860 高：6.01 厘米 口經/唇經：0.70/1.99 厘米 蓋：翡翠，乙烯基座 狀態敘述: 材料：結晶處有許多結冰似的瑕疵，在外表就成為紋裂，並不是製壺後所遭的損害；壺：口沿有三個微乎其微的咬痕，頸上部有半磨平的缺口，修磨的面積只有0.6 x 0.3厘米，肉眼看得見而不引人注目；一般相對的狀態：相當好
來源： 羅伯特．霍爾（1992） 文獻： 《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》Journal of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society, 1997年秋期，頁5 Treasury 2，編號188與書脊圖片