An iron-red enamelled porcelain 'Indian lotus' snuff bottle
Iron-red enamel on colourless glaze on cobalt on porcelain; a double bottle, each with a convex lip and recessed flat foot surrounded by a protruding convex footrim; one painted beneath the glaze, one enamelled, with a similar continuous design of scrolling Indian lotus; the neck of each with a band of formalized lingzhi; each with the foot, lip, inner neck, and interior glazed Possibly Imperial, Jingdezhen, 17901840 Height: 5.97 cm Mouths/lips: 0.80/1.21 Stoppers: glass/lapis lazuli
Condition: Chip to the outer lip of the blue segment and small repair on the opposite side; cracks in the glaze and surface wear to enamels from use; otherwise, kiln condition
Provenance: Robert Kleiner (1996)
Published: Sin, Hui, and Kwong 1996, no. 92 Treasury 6, no. 126
Exhibited: Tsui Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1996
With uncompressed forms, including cylindrical ones, there are no obvious signs that moulds were commonly used. Close examination of the interior suggests that, whatever the method of construction of these uncompressed forms, there are no vertical joins. What we see instead is horizontal ribbing on the inside, often quite pronounced. What joins there are appear to be between the foot and the body. It is possible that moulds were still used, but instead of pressing a porcelain sheet into each half and then joining the two halves, the potter fixed two halves of a mould together and spread the porcelain around inside the mould with a tool, leaving the exterior matching the smoothness of the mould and the interior with the roughness of the hand-held tool. (Many of the bottles apparently made in this way have horizontal marks on the inside; their regularity suggests that they were made by tools, not fingers.) A foot would then have been made separately and luted on once the porcelain was leather hard. Whatever the method, it was obviously different from that used for the standard range of compressed forms that had prevailed until the mid-Qing period.
Here, the decoration stops short of the vertical join and leaves a slightly ragged white line. The iron-red is likely to be nineteenth century. Its design is a striking decorative idea.