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    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 250


    JAPAN, 1854-1900

    Price Realised  


    JAPAN, 1854-1900
    Of compressed form with flat lip and recessed foot surrounded by a footrim, carved with a continuous design of a three scholars, one on horseback with another, on foot, beside him, a servant behind holding a furled banner, or large umbrella over his shoulder, the third walking attended by another servant, in a mountainous landscape, a waterfall in the distance, the sloping shoulder carved with a band of wispy clouds, the narrow sides carved with mask-and-ring handles, the mouthrim formed by a separately applied section of the same material, glass stopper with metal collar
    2 27/64 in. (6.1 cm.) high

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    This bottle is made from umimatsu, (literally: "sea-pine"), a material akin to coral, and sometimes described as "black coral." It is a hard colony of keratinous antipatharian marine organisms, resembling wood, while coral is a calcareous substance secreted by marine polyps for habitation.

    During the latter part of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century, Japanese artisans working in ivory, lacquer, wood, bamboo, umimatsu, coral, lac-burgauté, metal, and combinations of such materials as embellishment began to expand their repertoire to include snuff bottles, likely in response to the growing demand from European and particularly American collectors. At this time, umimatsu was regularly used for the production of netsuke in Japan, and was a natural substance for the production of snuff bottles for an export market. These are the earliest known snuff bottles in the material and the unusually small size and spectacular material, with its amber and black tones, ranks it among the most impressive of this rare group.

    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 Moss Ltd.


    JICSBS, March 1978, front cover


    Canadian Craft Museum, Vancouver, 1992.