An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830
Lot 119
An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830
Sold for HK$ 237,500 (US$ 30,640) inc. premium

Lot Details
An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830 An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830
An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle
Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830
5.79cm high.

Footnotes

  • Treasury 1, no. 30

    白玉刻邵雍《無妄吟》鼻煙壺
    或御製品,1750~1830

    An inscribed white nephrite snuff bottle

    Nephrite; very well hollowed, with a slightly irregular, flat foot; carved in relief seal script with a didactic song in four-character lines divided between the two main sides and contained in oval panels
    Possibly Imperial, 1726–1830
    Height: 5.79 cm
    Mouth/lip: 0.60/2.48 and 2.43 cm (oval)
    Stopper: tourmaline; jadeite finial; silver collar

    Condition:
    Natural flaw line across the rim original to material; slight irregularity close to foot suggests either that a flaw in the material was removed originally, or that a later chip has been smoothed out; otherwise, workshop condition

    Provenance:
    Trojan Collection
    Robert Hall (1993)

    Published:
    Hall 1992, no. 22
    Treasury 1, no. 30

    The song, by the Northern Song philosopher Shao Yong (1011 – 1077), was included in an anthology put together by the Yongzheng emperor, the Yuexin ji [Collection to give joy to the mind]. Although completed in 1726, the Yuexin ji was not widely available until the last years of the dynasty; this suggests that this bottle could be a palace product. Against that, of course, one must remember that Shao Yong was hardly a forgotten figure as a philosopher or poet, and his writings would not have been hard to find. The title of the song is Wuwang yin [Song of no-carelessness].

    The ears should not listen carelessly;
    The eyes should not see carelessly.
    The mouth should not speak carelessly ,
    The mind should not think about things carelessly.
    If one is not careless in these four things,
    He is complete in sagely wisdom.
    What manner of person am I,
    That I should not aspire to this?

    The inscription is written here in the ancient and somewhat esoteric seal script, reducing its potential audience to the highly educated and, therefore, one would hope, refined and morally upright, ideally matching the message. In this case, the medium also becomes the message. The manner in which it is carved is also wholly appropriate. The mastery of the esoteric script is impressive and the carving exhibits extraordinary command of the lapidary medium by reducing the surrounding ground to leave the perfectly formalized characters in relief against a matt, roughened ground. The pure material is equally understated, as is the detailing and hollowing, which is of extraordinary quality without being flamboyant. All in all, there is a ponderous righteousness about this bottle that carries the solemnity and morality of a religious sermon.

    There is another feature of the workmanship that seems to echo this approach to the work of art, and it may tell us something about the manufacture of a snuff bottle by the lapidary. An initial shaping cut has obviously gone just a little too deeply into the form, leaving a small, diagonal step just above the foot on one side, linking the foot and the lower edge of one panel, and making the otherwise perfectly oval foot slightly irregular on one side. As in calligraphy or painting, the fully mature artist, totally confident in perception and expression, rises above technical perfection as a primary goal and aspires to a goal of spontaneous expression, where technique is absorbed and becomes entirely natural. The artist has merely finished it to the same degree of polish as the rest and left it.

    白玉刻邵雍《無妄吟》鼻煙壺

    閃玉; 掏膛特別徹底 ,不規形則平底,二正面作減地陽刻邵雍《無妄吟》
    或許為御製品,1750–1830
    高﹕ 5.79 厘米
    口徑/唇徑: 0.60/2.48 及 2.43 厘米 (橢圓形)
    蓋﹕ 碧璽; 翡翠頂飾;銀座

    狀態敘述: 橫邊緣的一條綹紋是質料原有的,近底稍微不規則的地方可能是磨除瑕疵的結果,也可能是把製壺後發生的缺口磨平的痕跡;此外,出窯狀態

    來源:
    特落伊珍藏
    羅伯特.霍爾 (1993)

    文獻﹕
    Hall 1992, 編號 22
    Treasury 1, 編號 30

    題文曰 : "耳無妄聽,目無妄顧。口無妄言,心無妄慮。四者不妄。聖賢之具。予何人哉,敢不希慕 。" 邵雍這首詩為雍正皇帝雍正四年刊行的《悅心集》所錄,那部書到了清朝後期才有刻本流傳,如果設計本壺的人知道《無妄吟》是雍正皇帝所欣讚的,他大概是北京玉作的人員。不過,邵雍的作品是讀書人比較熟悉的,本壺的設計不一定是《悅心集》所刺激的。
    本壺題文的字體是古老而只有內行才懂的。能寫出如此深奧文字的人真是能手,在無光澤的瓶地上陽刻如此俐落的篆字的雕刻師也是能手。
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