Nephrite of pebble material, with artificial colour; of well hollowed, irregular form; the natural pebble skin enhanced with staining 17001880 Height: 5.7 cm (measured at right angles to the lip) Mouth: 0.62 cm Stopper: nephrite bead
Condition: Small old nibble to lip
Provenance: Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 18 May 1988, lot 585
Published: Kleiner 1995, no. 76 Treasury 1, no. 4
Exhibited: British Museum, JuneOctober 1995 Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1997
The pebble form of this bottle has probably been contrived to a much greater extent than is apparent, and the natural skin area was originally a good deal smaller. It appears to have been extended by artificial staining, which has also considerably enhanced the original skin- colouring. When this is done skilfully, it is often difficult to tell the difference between what is natural and what is contrived, but there seems little doubt that this pebble has been stained.
The result is not only a lovely form, which is a delight to fondle, but a gorgeous colour, shaded towards one corner in very gentle gradations to leave the tip of the one pointed section standing out like a snow-covered peak when the bottle is turned on its side. A plain pebble form can be viewed as sculpture from a number of possible angles, since there is no design to dictate orientation.