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    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 265


    JINGDE ZHEN KILNS, 1821-1900

    Price Realised  


    JINGDE ZHEN KILNS, 1821-1900
    Of pebble form, delicately enameled on each side with a katydid, coral stopper with stained bone collar
    2 23/64 in. (6.0 cm.) high

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    The design of a katydid was particularly popular during the mid-Qing period, from the late Qianlong reign into the Daoguang reign in the early 19th century. The motif is found on enameled glass snuff bottles with Imperial Guyue Xuan marks (see Moss, Graham and Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 201, for an example).

    Pebble-form porcelain snuff bottles first became popular during the Daoguang period as part of a wide range of Imperial products. They are the exception to the rule in not being not marked because the continuous curve of the base would mean that any mark would quickly be worn off in use (see Masterpieces of the Snuff Bottles in the Palace Museum, no. 166, for another example).

    Katydids (guoguo) pun on the word for "elder brother" that conveys a wish for male progeny. The words for katydids, crickets and grasshoppers form the rebus zhongsi yanqing (May your children be as numerous as grasshoppers). An alternative meaning for the motif comes from the association of "katydid" (guoguo) with a homonym for "country" to form the expression jinzhong baoguo, meaning "to be loyal to one's country." The pun was a subtle way of reminding officials of an essential tenet of Confucian government. In addition, the insects are emblematic of courage, and some species for their fighting prowess, and were popular at every level of society in China, valued for their merry chirping.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Elisabeth and Ladislas Kardos.