An agate 'monkey' snuff bottle Official School, 1770-1880(CHECK)
Lot 37
An agate 'monkey' snuff bottle Qing dynasty, 1770-1880
Sold for HK$ 175,000 (US$ 22,579) inc. premium
Lot Details
An agate 'monkey' snuff bottle
Qing dynasty, 1770-1880
Of rectangular flattened form with a recessed oval foot surrounded by a protruding footrim, the body well polished and smooth to the touch, the stone with natural dark brown inclusions carefully worked to represent three playful monkeys gazing upwards at two flying wasps.
5.9cm high.

Footnotes

  • Exhibited:
    Chinese Snuff Bottles, jointly presented by Hong Kong Chinese Snuff Bottle Collectors Study Group and the Urban Council, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 15 October to 26 November 1977

    Illustrated:
    Chinese Snuff Bottles, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1977, pp.83 & 128, pl.185

    This elegant snuff bottle belongs to a group of bottles skilfully designed and decorated with the subject matter suited to the official class who worked for the Imperial court. For a discussion of the attribution to the Official School, see Moss, Graham and Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol.2, Quartz, Hong Kong, 1998, p.206, no.258, where other associated examples are illustrated.

    Traditionally, the monkey has been one of the most popular motifs on snuff bottles, representing a high-ranking noble equivalent to a marquis while the wasp is a homophony for feng, or 'to confer'. The entire design thus operates upon a pun which refers to the Chinese proverb daidai fenghou, or "may every generation be given the title of marquis". It is also interesting to note that the craftsman utilised the natural rounded markings in the semi-transparent stone as the shape of a bag, of which the pun is 'generation'.

    清 1770-1880 皮影瑪瑙代代封侯鼻煙壺

    展覽:
    香港中國鼻煙壺收藏家學會、香港市政局聯辦,《中國鼻煙壺》,香港藝術館,1977年10月15日至11月26日

    出版:
    《中國鼻煙壺》,香港藝術館,香港,1977年,頁83及128,圖版185

    壺扁瓶形,直口,斜肩,橢圓形圈足,掏堂工整。通體淡灰褐色,半透明質之地溫潤,壺身一面利用瑪瑙天然黑色斑塊巧雕三隻靈猴伏於兩布袋之上,頭上兩隻蜜蜂空中飛舞,寓意「代代封侯」,獨具巧思。另一面光素無紋。壺頸部亦有如同祥雲一般的天然黑色斑塊,構圖頗具心思。

    此類皮影瑪瑙鼻煙壺的裝飾主題通常都以朝廷官職、科舉考試有關。關於官造流派硬石雕刻的論述,請參見莫士撝, Victor Graham 及曾嘉寶著,《A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection 》,第2冊,第一部份,頁206,編號258,書中後續亦列舉了數件統一派別的鼻煙壺。
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