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A FINE AND VERY RARE WHITE JADE EGGPLANT-FORM SNUFF BOTTLE WITH INTEGRAL STOPPER
A FINE AND VERY RARE WHITE JADE EGGPLANT-FORM SNUFF BOTTLE WITH INTEGRAL STOPPER

IMPERIAL, ATTRIBUTED TO THE PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, 1760-1800

Details
A FINE AND VERY RARE WHITE JADE EGGPLANT-FORM SNUFF BOTTLE WITH INTEGRAL STOPPER
IMPERIAL, ATTRIBUTED TO THE PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, 1760-1800
Superbly carved from flawless, translucent white stone in the form of an eggplant wrapped with a simulated brocade sash that is tied into a bow on one side from which a chain with twenty-two loose links is attached to the original stopper carved as the calyx of the fruit
2½ in. (6.36 cm.) high
Provenance
Michael Kaynes (Kaynes-Klitz) Collection
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2 May 1966, lot 1266
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 October 1990, lot 119
Hugh Moss (HK) Ltd.
Literature
JICSBS, Summer 1996, p. 24, fig. 7
Exhibited
Christie's Los Angeles, 2003

Lot Essay

The design of the tied brocade sash is associated with the Court and suggests precious objects, wrapped as if for presentation. It also symbolizes longevity through a pun on the Chinese characters for 'tied sash' and 'longevity.'

Loose rings and chains were a feature of Imperial jade carvings from the Qianlong period from which date large numbers of vessels with loose rings dangling from masks or strap handles. The period is also marked by an interest in snuff bottles in the shape of various fruits and vegetables, and in particular eggplants. These features, together with the extraordinary flawless white, highly translucent quality of the stone suggest production in the Palace workshops, although there is the possibility that it was carved for the Court at a distant jade-carving facility, such as Suzhou. The exceptional hollowing is another feature pointing to a Qianlong date, and particularly in relation to the post 1756 establishment of the Tibetan workshops in the Palace to produce Mughal-style jade carvings. Of the few known snuff bottles with the rather impractical feature of an integral stopper attached by a chain, this must certainly be one of the most spectacular examples of its type. The impracticality of the design, with its vulnerable, fragile chain, suggests that it perhaps was not intended to be carried about, but designed to stand on a desk.

In the past it was common to date highly-polished nephrite as very late, from the late Qing or Republican period. Recent scholarship has since shown it to be a standard option of finish from the Warring States period onwards. During the Qianlong period it can be no coincidence that some of the finest jade, of pure white color, was made for the Court that was finished to a higher gloss than less pure material, presumably to bring out its translucence, color and purity.
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