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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 5



    Price Realised  


    The shallow dish set on a recessed circular foot surrounded by a footrim, the underside of the dish carved in relief with an inscription in archaic script reading 'Her Ladyship Mother Tu Made This Noble Vessel, May It Be Used Forever'
    1 in. (3.1 cm.) diam.

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    In the mid-Qing period, as the habit of snuffing spread gradually to all levels of society from the Court, certain literati began to create their own snuff bottles, or at least decorated them. Among these is a group of coconut shell bottles, with inscriptions by scholar-artists. The content of these wares often incorporated the ancient inscriptions from archaic bronzes that intrigued mid-Qing scholars for their epigraphic content. These coconut bottles were mostly made during the nineteenth century, the most likely date for this snuff dish, although the inscription itself is taken from an ancient bronze vessel, as is made obvious by not only the style of the script but the message it contains.

    Snuff dishes to match coconut bottles are occasionally found, although this is one of the most sophisticated, with its well defined dish-form, as opposed to relying on the natural curve of the shell to create the dish. The proposed evolution of the snuff dish is set out in Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 2, p. 748 where it is suggested that originally snuff dishes, if found at all, were incorporated in the bottle form, as a depression or flat surface on one or both sides, and that only when the Manchu warriors who first espoused snuffing and snuff bottles came down from their horses to lead a more effete life during the mid-Qing period did the additional paraphernalia for snuffing evolve.

    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.


    Ching Wah Lee, by repute
    Wilson Collection
    Sotheby's, New York, 23 March 1998, part lot 272
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd., 23 March 1998