Xiaoyun, possibly Jiang Qingji, 18201880 (the bottle: 17501870) 6.39cm high.
Treasury 7, no. 1606
煤精刻圖刻詞鼻煙壺 壺：1750～1870 刻飾：小雲，或許即江清驥刻，1820～1880
Jet, and slightly milky, dendritic quartz with green markings; extremely well hollowed, with flat lip and concave foot surrounded by a flat footrim; engraved on one main side with a branch of blossoming prunus, one flower with a cabochon of quartz at its centre, engraved above in running script 'Written by Xiaoyun,' the other main side engraved in running script with the first stanza of a lyric by Zha Li (17161783), followed by 'Transcribed by order of second uncle Aishan' and two undesciphered characters in a separate column to the left
Bottle: 17501870 Engraving: Xiaoyun, possibly Jiang Qingji, 18201880 Height: 6.39 cm Mouth/lip: 0.65/2.52 cm Stopper: tourmaline, carved in low relief with a design of a crane flying above a pine tree, made from half a bead Condition: miniscule chip in the outer lip rim; two small abrasions on the foot; the inlaid cabochon probably a later addition to conceal a chip in the surface; the usual pattern of scratches and abrasions from use, not the least bit obtrusive
Exhibited: British Museum, London, June-October 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July-November 1997
Zha Li's lyric quoted here was written to the tune Qitian le. It reads: Midday chess pieces clatter, breaking into a dream where I pursue the delights of spring, To find outside the window apricot blossoms have opened wide. I'm now awake from last night's wine; A new lyric starts to take shape, When it's announced someone looking for fragrant blossoms has arrived. We exchange a smile, As shadows fall, and fragrance wafts. Swallows at dusk and orioles at dawn. My thin hair urges me to pin it up; Before the goblets please don't make fun of how old I am. The original poem has a short preface indicating that the lyric was written when friends visited on the fourteenth of the second month and they all wrote lyrics together. Any bottle on which this stanza is engraved would be a gift from a nephew to an uncle who spends his time drinking, writing ci lyrics, and enjoying the delights of spring. As to the identity of Xiaoyun, there were at least ten people recorded as adopting this name as a zi during the Qing dynasty and one more in the Republican period. The most plausible choice is Jiang Qingji (zi: Xiaoyun, hao: Yiyuan). Jiang, whose hao was Yiyuan, was a native of Qiantang (present-day Hangzhou) in Zhejiang province. After attaining the juren degree in the twentieth year of the Daoguang period (1840), he served as an intendant of the Changzhen circuit in Jiangsu province. An acclaimed calligrapher, he was particularly talented in writing seal, clerical, running, and cursive scripts.