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A CARVED ROOT AMBER SNUFF BOTTLE
Items which contain rubies or jadeite originating … Read more
A CARVED ROOT AMBER SNUFF BOTTLE

1750-1860

Details
A CARVED ROOT AMBER SNUFF BOTTLE
1750-1860
The bottle is carved with a dense design of squirrels on rocks and amidst leafy grape vines, and with a mask-and-ring handle on each narrow side.
2 ½ in. (6.3 cm.) high, jadeite stopper
Provenance
Robert Hall, London, 2012.
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd., Hong Kong, 2012.
Ruth and Carl Barron Collection, Belmont, Massachusetts, no. 5413.
Special Notice

Items which contain rubies or jadeite originating in Burma (Myanmar) may not be imported into the U.S. As a convenience to our bidders, we have marked these lots with Y. Please be advised that a purchaser¹s inability to import any such item into the U.S. or any other country shall not constitute grounds for non-payment or cancellation of the sale. With respect to items that contain any other types of gemstones originating in Burma (e.g., sapphires), such items may be imported into the U.S., provided that the gemstones have been mounted or incorporated into jewellery outside of Burma and provided that the setting is not of a temporary nature (e.g., a string).

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Margaret Gristina

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Lot Essay

One of the exotic materials used for snuff bottles, amber is the translucent fossilized resin of ancient coniferous trees from the Tertiary period. Three main varieties of amber were used: a range of transparent brown, golden-brown and reddish amber; a yellow, cloudy amber associated with the Baltic; and 'root amber', such as this bottle, where the range of material has inclusions of opaque yellow-ochre and brown colors. 'Root' amber, is so called because it was believed that the resin combines with clay at the root of the tree to obtain its color. However, it is more likely that the color is the result of a chemical process.

Amber was valued long before the snuff-bottle era and was considered to be a symbol of longevity, since it was known to have lain in the ground being transformed over a long period of time. It would have become a popular material for snuff bottles from very early in the development of the art-form.

As squirrels have large litters, the depiction of a squirrel with trailing vines on this bottle may be a visual rebus for a wish for many sons and the continuation of the family line, the winding vines representing the family lineage. It has also been suggested that the squirrel and grape-vine motif conveys a wish for promotion to a higher rank.

More from The Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles: Part II

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