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    Sale 2026

    Important Chinese Snuff Bottles From The J&J Collection, Part V

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 34



    Price Realised  


    Of smooth, flattened pebble-form, the rich russet-brown skin on one side effectively carved to form the upper surface of the insect, with large, bulbous eyes and folded wings, the greyish-green material on the underside carved in low relief with a series of curved lines depicting its thorax, ivory stopper
    2 in. (5.95 cm.) high

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    The cicada is a symbol of immortality because it has an unusually long life cycle for an insect. It also became a symbol of extended youth and of happiness on account of its joyous chirping. From the late Neolithic times small nephrite sculptures of this type were popular for burials, and cicadas or cicada designs gradually evolved over the centuries into one of the most ubiquitous of Chinese art symbols. As a result, cicada-form bottles were popular at the Court during the eighteenth century.

    See a white nephrite example in the Imperial Collection at Beijing illustrated by Zhu Peichu and Xia Gengqi eds., Biyanhu Shihua [History of Snuff Bottles], pl. 50, and another two illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 1, Jade, nos. 58 and 59, where the latter is similar in its restrained archaism and use of the pebble material. The present lot is unusual due to the carver's use of the russet skin, as the majority of cicada-form jade snuff bottles are entirely in white or off-white nephrite.

    Examples of cicada-form snuff bottles also occur in other materials such as porcelain, including one formerly from the Meriem Collection, sold in these rooms, 19 March 2008, lot 245, and another in P. Friedman, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Pamela R. Lessing Friedman Collection, no. 124; and one in brown crystal, illustrated by R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, no. 138.

    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 Ltd.
    Mrs. C.G. Baxter
    Christie's, London, 11 November 1974, lot 56
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.


    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 8.


    Christie's, New York, 1993
    Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
    Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt, 1996-1997
    Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, London, 1997
    Naples Museum of Art, Florida, 2002
    Portland Museum of Art, Oregon, 2002
    National Museum of History, Taipei, 2002
    International Asian Art Fair, Seventh Regiment Armory, New York, 2003
    Poly Art Museum, Beijing, 2003