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A RARE INSCRIBED BROWN CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
A RARE INSCRIBED BROWN CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE

BY YOUQIN, PROBABLY 1805

Details
A RARE INSCRIBED BROWN CRYSTAL SNUFF BOTTLE
BY YOUQIN, PROBABLY 1805
Of flat form with concave oval foot, one side retaining the opaque, pale grey and pale creamy brown skin of stone and inscribed with a fourteen character inscription in clerical script, followed by the date 'Sixth month of the year yichou' and the signature, Youqin, and two blank seals, the transparent stone on the reverse of greyish-brown tone well carved in low relief with three bats in flight amidst stylized swirling clouds, stopper
2½ in. (6.4 cm.) high
Provenance
Ambassador T. T. Li (Shanghai, 1945)
Literature
Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, The J&J Collection, vol. 1, no. 104
Exhibited
Havana, Cuba, 1945
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, 1968
Christie's New York, 1993
Empress Place Museum, Singapore, 1994
Museum fur 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

Lot Essay

Two other similar bottles are known, the first from the collection of the Marquess of Exeter, illustrated by Hugh Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Silica or Quartz Group, p. 8, no. 5; and the second, dated to 1817 or 1877, is in the Chester Beatty Collection, illustrated in Arts of Asia, March-April 1988, p. 60, no. 7. Like the present lot, the calligraphy on both these bottles is cut through the outer skin to achieve a degree of contrast for the characters. The style of calligraphy and cutting, as well as the use of the material, are very similar in the present bottle and the example from the collection of the Marquess, which suggests that they are from the same workshop and probably by the same hand.

The inscription reads as follows:

Cut and polished by a skilful craftsman,
[In here is hidden] the shrunken Master of the Bottle.
[While] the one who has attained the Way keeps [improper matters] in the dark,
A recluse [always strives to] preserve his true nature.
;

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