An inscribed nephrite pebble-material 'dragon and phoenix' snuff bottle
Nephrite of pebble material; well hollowed, with a concave foot; carved with a free-standing chi dragon coiled around the neck of the bottle, a fenghuang on one main side, and on the other an inscription in seal script, 'A dragon in flight and a fenghuang dancing', followed by two seals, shangxin ('to take delight in') of circular form in positive seal script, and leshi ('joyful events'), of square form in negative seal script Possibly Imperial, perhaps palace workshops, Beijing, 17401820 Height: 6.1 cm Mouth/lip: 0.68/1.30 cm Stopper: jadeite; vinyl collar
Condition: Tiny chip on chi dragon curled round neck, on formalized flame just beneath belly; barely perceptible minute chip in outer lip; otherwise, workshop condition
An interesting feature of this bottle is the apparent difference in style between the two creatures. The realistic dragon is as fluently carved in the round and as carefully finished as the finest in the medium. The formalized fenghuang, on the other hand, is conceived as existing on a single plane, elevated only very slightly from the ground plane. The use of the coloured skin in the two creatures also seems the product of a different artistic personality, with that of the dragon hinting at genius, while that of the bird is more commonplace.