An inside-painted rock-crystal 'flower peddler' snuff bottle
Ma Shaoxuan, dated 1898 The interior intricately painted with a flower peddler selling apricot flowers, carrying two baskets using a wooden staff, standing in front of a wall with an arched opening and two apricot trees at the back, the reverse with kaishu inscriptions with the signature and painted seal mark of the artist. 6.2cm high.
The inscriptions on the reverse were assembled from the series 'Ershisi Shipin' or 'Twenty-four Categories of Poetry' by the Tang dynasty poet Sikong Tu (837-908). This series suggests a combination of various poetic experiences, where the sentences assembled here relates to poems titled 'Unrestrained', 'Spontaneous', 'Essential', 'Gorgeous', 'Dignified', 'Descriptive', 'Bland' and 'Refined'. However, none of the mentioned verses actually complement or describe the inside-painted scene on the other side.
For a similar example from the Mullin Collection, see Moss and Sargent, This Snuff Bottle Monkey Business: The Mullin Collection and Its Story, Hong Kong, 2012, p.272. The mentioned inside-painted snuff bottle has the same poem at the rear and similar subject matter at the front. It is interesting to note that the mentioned bottle was painted in 1899, one year after than the current lot.
The aforementioned inside-painted snuff bottle in the Mullin Collection has an additional poem, which reads, "If your gorgeous garden did not have so many splendours, why would I come from the Lang Gardens to compete in fragrance?" Lang Gardens, also called Langfeng Gardens, was said to have been located at the summit of the Kunlun mountains where Queen Mother of the West lived. It is logical to assume that the flower peddler is an immortal, coming from Langfeng Gardens of Kunlun Mountain.
Mullin珍藏中也有一件類似的馬少宣作品，見莫士撝、Stuart Sargent, 《This Snuff Bottle Monkey Business: The Mullin Collection and Its Story》，香港，2012，頁272。其創作年份剛好比本拍品之晚一年，一面畫了賣花者，另一面為同樣集二十四詩品句字的詩句，唯多一題字：「不是綺園多勝事，那從閬苑鬥芳菲」，閬苑，則稱閬風苑，傳說中是位於昆倫山之嶺，西王母居住之地。因此賣花者有可能是一位神仙，這題字有助也解釋了本拍品中賣花者的身份。
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