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    Sale 1977

    The Meriem Collection Important Chinese Snuff Bottles, Part II

    19 March 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 267



    Price Realised  


    Of compressed form with flat lip and convex oval foot surrounded by a footrim, carved through the transparent red layer to the bubble-suffused colorless ground with a continuous scene of a carp exhaling formalized vapour as clouds which support a two-storey pavilion with a crane flying on either side of it, one carrying a tally in its beak, the scene continuing on the other main side with a pair of bats flying around a fruiting peach tree rising from a rocky outcrop, a sprig of lingzhi growing from another rocky outcrop nearby, all above formalized waves, jadeite stopper with vinyl collar
    2 19/64 in. (5.8 cm.) high

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    The various elements of the subject here suggest various symbolic wishes, all of which are auspicious greetings suitable for a birthday. The crane, as the messenger of the Daoist Immortals, and because it is a long-lived creature, represents immortality and thus longevity. The crane (he) holding a tally (suan) in its beak is a pictorial representation of the term hesuan which, like the peaches of immortality, is an allusion to longevity. The bat and sea waves represent the wish "[May your] happiness be as [vast as] the Eastern Sea", while the peaches also represent longevity. The sea (hai) with a house (wu) and a crane holding a tally (which can also be called chou) in its beak form the rebus haiwu tianchou (Adding tallies to the immortals abode above the sea ), a subtle expression used to wish people many happy returns on their birthdays. According to the Shanghai cishu chubanshe, in juan 2 of Dongpo zhilin (A Collection of Writings by Dongpo), the Northern Song scholar Su Dongpo (Su Shi, 1037-1101) recounts the story of three old men chancing to meet, and inquiring after each other's age one responded that he could not remember his age, but recalled that in his youth he had been a friend of Pangu (the legendary first being on the earth). Another said that whenever the sea had transformed into mulberry fields, he had put aside one tally; now ten houses had been filled with tallies. Based on this anecdote, the Chinese frequently use the expression haiwu tianchou to convey a birthday wish for longevity.

    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.


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