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The well-hollowed ovoid bottle with a slightly concave foot, the flawless material carved with a continuous landscape with rocky outcrops, blossoming prunus and pine trees, one side with a scholar seated in a boat playing the qin, his attendant leaning against a nearby rock listening attentively, the other side with a fisherman sitting in his boat, a large fish dangling from his rod, a boy standing nearby holding a basket and what appears to be a clam in his outstretched hand, coral stopper carved as a lotus leaf with jadeite finial, stained walrus-tusk collar and additional vinyl collar
2 5/16 in. (5.87 cm.) high
Ambassador T.T. Li (Shanghai, 1945)
Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. II, no. 295
Havana, Cuba, 1945
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, 1968
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
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.

Lot Essay

One of the most beautiful of the exotic materials used in the manufacture of snuff bottles is amber, the translucent fossilized resin of ancient coniferous trees from the Tertiary period. The three main varieties of amber used are: a deep red, more transparent amber imported mainly from Burma; a yellow-toned amber associated with the Baltic coast of Germany; and "root amber," a reddish transparent amber mottled with patches of opaque yellow-ochre color.
The brownish-red coloring of the present bottle distinguishes it as probably being of Burmese origin. It is unusually rich in color, flawless and transparent, all of which is complemented by the superb carving and charming subject.
An interesting touch here is the incense burner on the bow of the boat. It was customary for the player of the qin to set an incense burner on the playing table, or in front of himself if he were playing the instrument on his lap, as in this case. The process of preparing and lighting incense, and the gentle, lulling patterns of the drifting incense smoke were a calming conduit to meditation and artistic expression. The qin was the quintessential instrument of the cultured elite, allowing immense personal interpretation, even of set scores.

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