An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800)
Lot 9
An inscribed coconut-shell and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800)
Sold for HK$ 72,000 (US$ 9,283) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800) An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800) An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800) An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800) An inscribed coconut, stained ivory and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800)
An inscribed coconut-shell and green lacquer 'eggplant' snuff bottle
Deng Erpi, 1900-1954 (the bottle probably Imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800)
7cm high (including original stopper).

Footnotes

  • Treasury 7, no. 1651

    椰殼茄形鼻煙壺
    壺: 大概為御製品,推定為宮廷作坊所作,北京,1723-1800
    銘: 鄧爾疋,1900-1954

    A Request from Fenfu

    Dwarf coconut, stained ivory, and green lacquer; made in the form of an eggplant, the fruit of coconut, the calyx of green-stained ivory covered in green lacquer; inscribed in angular, regular script 'Wood for drinking; fragrance for eating. Inscribed by Erpi at the request of Fenfu.'
    Bottle: Probably imperial, attributed to the palace workshops, Beijing, 1723–1800
    Engraving: Deng Erpi, 1900–1954
    Height: 7 cm (including original stopper)
    Mouth: 0.89 cm
    Stopper: stained ivory and green lacquer, carved as a stalk; lacquer collar
    Associated paraphernalia: fitted case containing this bottle and Treasury 7, no. 1516 (lot 8 in this sale) as a pair

    Condition: some of the upper layer of green lacquer on the calyx and twig–stopper abraded or chipped off. General relative condition: very good

    Provenance:
    Christie's, Hong Kong, 22 March 1993, lot 520
    Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1993)

    Published:
    Zhao Ruzhen 1994, no. 153
    Kleiner 1995, no. 327
    Zhao Lihong 1996, p. 116
    Treasury 7, no. 1651

    Exhibited:
    British Museum, London, June–October 1995
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem, July–November 1997

    Commentary:
    Deng Erpi (1883–1954), a native of Dongguan in Guangdong province, was well known as a calligrapher, seal engraver, epigrapher, painter, poet, and collector. Because he came from Guangdong, the southern coastal province in which Guangzhou (Canton) is situated, and because this bottle is made from a dwarf coconut that would have been more likely to have been produced in the south, Kleiner concluded that the bottle dated from the time of Deng Erpi, noting this as evidence that both snuffing and the literati tradition survived the fall of the Qing dynasty. Both did—of that there is no doubt—but the evidence of the bottle indicates that it is far older than the inscription. The coconut itself, though well patinated and smoothed, offers no pressing evidence of considerable age, but the matching stopper and the shoulder mantle of the calyx do. Both are of olive green-stained ivory covered with a layer of green lacquer. The lacquer is convincingly worn through in a number of places on both calyx and stopper, and beneath the wear the ivory is weathered and stained; it has been well used for a considerable period of time. Despite the wear on the lacquer, we may assume it was added to this bottle after the original ivory was already well worn, and probably after the stopper was broken and in need of retrofitting with the addition of the extra collar. There would seem to have been little point in staining the ivory and then covering it with lacquer of a similar colour at the time of original manufacture; and it is clear that the stain in the ivory did not result from the addition of the lacquer, for it is of a distinctly different green and runs evenly through the material. The fact that the only other example known, discussed below, lacks the lacquer is further evidence that lacquer was not part of the original concept.

    The inscription is obviously younger than both the ivory and its lacquer overlay. Microscopic examination of the inscriptions on bottles from the late Qing that were actually used reveals deposits of dirt, snuff, and dust worked into the engraving by the natural oils from the hand. This distinctive incrustation is absent from the engraving on this example, which seems barely used since it was added. It seems that the bottle came into the hands of someone named Fenfu in the first half of the twentieth century, and Fenfu asked Deng Erpi to engrave something on it for him. It is perhaps less likely that Deng inscribed it after 1949; he lived his last few years in difficult times.

    What do we make of the fact that this bottle came in an ancient fitted case paired with no. 1516? The two are alike insofar as they share a natural material transformed into another natural fruit by the addition of a stalk and calyx, in this case separate, in the other case joined as the original stopper. Both these bottles may be from the palace. This belief is strengthened by the fact that the only other known bottle that is like the present example was in the imperial collection (and remains there, in Beijing: Li Jiufang 2002, no. 387). It too is a dwarf coconut, although misleadingly catalogued as wood, with what appears to be a stained ivory calyx and original stalk-shaped stopper. (The absence of lacquer bolsters our conviction that the lacquer on the present bottle is a later addition.) On this and no. 1516, we are willing to stick our necks out and suggest a tentative attribution to the palace workshops of the Qianlong period, perhaps even of the Yongzheng reign.

    份甫囑

    矮椰子、染色的象牙、綠漆;茄子形,綠色象牙萼施綠色漆,題"木為飲,香為食,份甫屬,爾疋銘"
    壺﹕ 大概為御製品, 推定為宮廷作坊所作, 北京, 1723~1800 年
    銘﹕鄧爾疋,1900~1954 年
    高:7 厘米 (包括原蓋)
    口經:0.89 厘米
    蓋:染色的象牙、綠漆,雕蒂;漆座
    關聯的物件﹕容納本壺和拍賣品號8 的特裝盒子

    狀態敘述:
    萼、枝上的綠漆有所破掉。總體的相對狀況: 相當好

    來源:
    佳士得, 香港,1993年3月22日, 拍賣品號520
    Hugh Moss (香港) Ltd (1993)

    文獻:
    趙洳珍 1994, 編號153
    Kleiner 1995, 編號327
    趙麗紅 1996, 頁 116
    Treasury 7, 編號1651

    展覽:
    大英博物館, 倫敦, 1995年6月~10月
    Israel Museum, 耶路撒冷, 1997年7月~11月

    說明:
    其他例子和詳細論述,請參閱本壺的英文說明。
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