Bamboo; adequately hollowed, with a flat lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim 18301920 Height: 5.51 cm Mouth/lip: 0.54/1.14 cm Stopper: bamboo with integral collar, cork, and spoon; original
Condition: Some minor surface abrasions; otherwise, workshop condition
Provenance: Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd (1994)
Published: Treasury 7, no. 1478
This bottle has barely been used and has not been darkened by either polish or age, leaving the speckling of the grain starkly defined. The condition of this example is atypical, remaining much as the carver would have left it in the latter part of the Qing dynasty. There was apparently no original staining used, and the surface is almost without patina or wear (although close examination does suggest that it may have been used, or at least handled by collectors for a while, particularly around the stopper, which is slightly darker from handling). The central diaphragm is unusually ill-defined, blending almost imperceptibly into the grainy surrounding material.
Like Sale 2, lot 45, it also retains its original matching stopper, raising the possibility that many such bottles originally had them, even if they were subsequently lost. Perhaps this bottle was bought by a collector, maybe a foreigner rather than a snuff taker in China, and not much handled. Unlike Sale 2, lot 45, however, this stopper is not in any particular sense characteristic of Imperial form. The official's-hat stopper, as we have called it elsewhere, has an integral finial and collar and is of inverted cone shape, as were the officials' hats (or the emperor's), the apparent source of inspiration. This one is simply a bamboo version of a cabochon set on a collar; it represents the other most common form of snuff-bottle stoppers, one used, no doubt, all over the empire throughout the snuff-bottle period.