A turquoise matrix snuff bottle Qing dynasty, 1730-1880
Lot 123
A turquoise matrix snuff bottle Qing dynasty, 1730-1880
HK$ 30,000 - 50,000
US$ 3,900 - 6,500
withdrawn
Lot Details
Snuff bottles formerly in the Mary and George Bloch collection (lots 100-146)
A turquoise matrix snuff bottle
Qing dynasty, 1730-1880
Of natural pebble form, sold with accompanying watercolour by Peter Suart.
4.6cm high.

Footnotes

  • Provenance 來源:
    Robert Hall (1987)

    Illustrated 出版:
    Robert Kleiner, Yang Boda, and Clarence F. Shangraw, Chinese Snuff Bottles: A Miniature Art from the Collection of George and Mary Bloch, Hong Kong Museum of Art, 1994, no. 244
    Hugh Moss, Victor Graham and Ka Bo Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles. The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Volume 3, Hong Kong, 1998, no.418

    Exhibited 展覽:
    Robert Hall, London, October 1987
    Hong Kong Museum of Art, March–June 1994
    National Museum, Singapore, November 1994–February 1995

    Turquoise is a crypto-crystalline aggregate with crystals so fine that the stone is considered practically amorphous. Although the composition varies, it is a hydrous copper aluminium phosphate with some iron. Its hardness on the Mohs scale is slightly less than 6. It is found in a number of places around the world, including Persia, the Sinai Peninsula and Russia. It appears to have been mined in Tibet, where it is one of the most valued stones in the culture, although because of its value the exact whereabouts of the mines has long been shrouded in mystery. Marco Polo spoke of the existence of turquoise in what he called Caindu, which has been identified as modern-day Sichuan province, then largely inhabited by Tibetan tribes, so it is possible that the Tibetans simply used the stone there and gave the impression it was mined locally. It was mined in China, in Zhushan County, Yunxi County, and Yun County in Hubei province, but this is documented only for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Xinjiang, old exhausted turquoise mines still exist in Hami, which was the first Turkic oasis to ask to be a protectorate of the Qing (in 1697). Until the war with the Zunghars, trade between Hami and Beijing flourished, and after the extermination of the Zunghars in 1759, Hami was one of the areas of the vanquished empire in which the Qing were able to have a significant military and civilian presence (which was not the case in the nephrite-producing areas about 1800 km further west). Whether turquoise was part of the tribute that would have resumed is unknown. In any case, imports by sea must have been significant.

    Most turquoise snuff bottles are of a distinctly green colour that is attributable to the absorption of oils from the hand with much use, and certainly turquoise is susceptible to this, but it is also true that some turquoise is bluer than others, Persian material, notably, and some from North America. The Tibetan and Chinese material was found originally both as green and blue, and much of what was used in the snuff-bottle world would have started life as green material. To the Qing Chinese, the stone was known as lüsongshi ('green pine stone'), whether green or blue, suggesting that green was the more common colour, but according to the General Gazetteer of Hubei, pale blue was held to be the most valuable colour. Another indication that the two colours were equally used, and to some extent equally valued, is found in the number of porcelain copies of the material where some copy blue and some green material. This is good evidence, since enamels on porcelain do not discolour through handling, as the real material would.

    1730-1880 綠松石隨形鼻煙壺

    綠松石巖;掏膛適當,天然卵石鳽。

    綠松石是一組復雜的礦物組,化學式有六種。它存在於沈積巖的含鐵鐵帽中,莫氏硬度是5-6。在鼻煙壺界,假冒的綠松石很容易識別,晚清或出現了沁染的滑石,但它缺乏綠松石巖的裂痕。沒有那種脈紋的綠松石煙壺如Treasury 2,編號423及424與 《國際中國鼻煙壺協會的學術期刊》,1977年9月號,頁 17,編號 23–27,可是並不多。綠松石常常與褐鐵礦伴生。

    在中國採礦的地方有湖北隕縣、隕西縣、竹山等,但這都是清末民國初創辦的。新疆哈密市有天湖綠松石礦,也有幾個採空的老硐遺跡。康熙36年3月(1697)哈密成為清帝國的受保護領地,《清實錄》云:「哈密 額貝杜拉達爾 漢白克疏言、臣遣子郭帕白克擒噶爾丹子塞卜騰巴爾珠 爾、必為四部。厄魯特所仇。其中左翼之怨尤深。臣哈密 微弱、 所尤懼者、策妄阿喇布坦也。請敕理藩院、移文青海諸台吉、 及策妄阿喇布坦諭以哈密 既已歸誠、勿得侵擾。應如所請。從之。」

    此後,哈密與北京的「進貢」關係就比較正規化了,在乾隆朝,准噶爾國被殲滅之前,哈密、蕭州都是京師與新疆的貿易中心,哈密市的貿易非常興盛。准噶爾國滅亡後,哈密屬於清朝非軍事行政比較有權威的地區,綠松石也許在其進貢額之內。可是無論哈密的綠松石進貢多不多,由海口來的輸入質料也一定不少。

    其他例子,見Sydney L. Moss Ltd 1965,編號96;Curtis 1982,編號36; Moss 1977,頁 11, 編號7;紐約蘇富比,1990年4月6日,拍賣編號179,及紐約蘇富比,1995年9月22日,拍賣品號 197。

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