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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 10



    Price Realised  


    The even-toned white stone carved in the form of a mythical tortoise (bixi) with a honeycomb-patterned carapace enclosed by a leiwen border, the top of its head with pronged horns and ears, its grimacing mouth framed by whiskers, the body flanked by hair-tufted legs, the bushy tail flicked onto its back, coral stopper
    2 1/16 in. (5.24 cm.) across

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    The bixi is a mythical beast with the head of a dragon, the tail of a qilin, the paws of a Buddhist lion and the body of a tortoise. The domed carapace of the creature was believed to represent the vault of the heavens while its flat lower shell represented the earth; the living flesh within represented humankind. Not only was this mythical creature one of the earliest spiritual symbols in China, it was also associated with the concept of longevity.

    This bottle belongs to a group of animal-form nephrite bottles, the bixi being among the most popular of them, perhaps as a result of its powerful symbolism. Other examples include one in the Bloch Collection, illustrated by Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 1, Jade, no. 51; another in B. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, no. 359; and one in R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles. The White Wings Collection, p. 47, no. 24.

    Bottles of this group are carved predominantly from white or off-white nephrite, and are all well hollowed and carved with minute attention to detail. However, the present example is unusually capacious for the group and is exceptionally well carved and detailed.

    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.


    F.W.A. Knight
    Sotheby's, London, 9 June 1981, lot 86
    Hugh M. Moss Ltd.


    Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 1, no. 5


    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