• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 205


    ZHITING SCHOOL, 1740-1820

    Price Realised  


    ZHITING SCHOOL, 1740-1820
    Of flattened form with slightly concave lip and recessed convex foot surrounded by a footrim, finely carved through the darker brown area of the stone with a bird perched on a flowering peony branch issuing from pierced rockwork, the other main side carved with a waterfall beneath wispy clouds and with a seven-character inscription in running script reading, "As the breeze blows through the flowers, it carries away a fragrant scent," aquamarine stopper, ruby finial and vinyl collar
    2 13/64 in. (5.6 cm.) high

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The town of Suzhou, famous for its gardens and canals, was one of the main cultural centers in China, attracting painters, calligraphers, poets, musicians and other talented individuals. Their pursuits comprise the main subject matter of the group of acclaimed snuff bottles intricately carved from agate and jade in a style unique to at least one workshop in the town, associated with the eighteenth century master who occasionally signed his wares Zhiting.

    Although the shape of this bottle and the presence of a footrim are two features more commonly associated with the Official school, the style of the low-relief carving, in particular, the convoluted, pierced rockwork, is similar to those found on other Suzhou agate snuff bottles of the Zhiting School that replicate the rocks in local gardens (see Moss, Graham and Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 2, Quartz, nos. 377 and 378). The imaginative use of patches of color and translucent tones of brown to depict the bird and foliage are typical of the Zhiting School, as are the serrated rocks and the band of clouds at the neck (see Moss, Graham and Tsang, ibid., nos. 371, 374 and 377). See also, B. Stevens, A Collector's Book of Chinese Snuff Bottles, no. 572, for another example of similar carved rocks, and no. 575 for a similar carving of a bird; and C. Lawrence, Miniature Masterpieces from the Middle Kingdom. The Monimar Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles, pp. 134-35, no. 61.

    See another carved agate snuff bottle ascribed to the Suzhou school also of atypical globular form and set on a footrim, in Moss, Graham and Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 142. Compare other Suzhou bottles of atypical form in H. Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Silica or Quartz Group, nos. 178, 179 and 188.

    The inscription is taken from a couplet purportedly composed at a banquet by the Tang poet Su Xun (1009-1066), the father of Su Dongpo.

    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.


    Hugh M. Moss Collection.


    Hong Kong Museum of Art, Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty, 20 October-3 December 1978, p. 115, no. 207.
    H. Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Silica or Quartz Group, p. 64, no. 166.
    Catalogue, Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.


    Hong Kong Museum of Art, "Snuff Bottles of the Ch'ing Dynasty", 20 October-3 December 1978.
    Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.