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.
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'.
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