This extremely unusual bottle was painted by the Ye family, but signed "Ma Shaoxuan" (1867-1939), a snuff-bottle master represented by lot 253. The Ye family may have been commissioned to paint a bottle copying one by Ma, but the artist did not adapt his style to imitate Ma's, and merely inscribed Ma's signature.
From 1913 Ye was joined in his studio by his eldest son, Ye Bengzhen, and shortly thereafter by Ye Xiaofeng, so in 1916 the work could have been done by Ye himself, or by one of his two sons. It is also possible that they worked together to produce bottles. See Moss, Graham and Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 4, Inside Painted, no. 645, for a discussion on Ye Zhongsan and his sons.
The Liaozhai zhiyi (Strange Tales Recorded by the Studio of Idle Talk) is a collection of love and ghost stories first published in 1679 (see V. Mead, "A Guide to Chinese Snuff BOttles from the Liao Chai Chih I," JICSBS, September 1980, pp. 1-37). The Ye family drew heavily upon this popular work for its subject matter.