Multi-colored single-plane overlay bottles can have from two to nine different colors, although two to five is the norm. By the early Yongzheng period lapidaries producing cameo designs with multi-colored hardstones, including jade, were transferring their skills to the carving of multi-colored glass.
One of the advantages of a colorless ground is that each overlay appears in its true color, as seen on the present example. The rare combination of colors on this bottle is enhanced by the impeccable carving and well-composed design. See Moss, Graham and Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass, nos. 985-92, for a discussion of this group of multi-color overlay snuff bottles.
The classic examples of this group of bottles consist of a variety of colors spread around the bottle linked by a common color, here, by the green overlay stems, foliage and clouds.
Compare with the five-colour overlay glass bottle from the Meriem collection, sold in our New York Rooms, 19 March 2008, lot 305.
The subject of the five bats on each side is an extremely fortuitous image, as it provides rebuses for both vast good fortune and for the 'Five Blessings' of longevity, health, wealth, love of virtue and a peaceful death. The bats here are depicted in varying postures of flight, and it is significant that a few are shown upside down because in Chinese, an upside-down bat provides a homophone for 'happiness has arrived'.