The inscription on the back of the bottle is taken from the Tang dynasty poet Wang Bo's Seng Quan Yan (Feast at the Holy Springs) and can be translated as follow: 'The scent of orchids perfumes our wine on the mountain
The sound of pine trees harmonizes with our countryside xian (musical instrument)."
Yixing in Jiangsu province gives its name to this distinctive stoneware. In production for nearly a thousand years in the same place, Yixing wares only came into artistic prominence in the later Ming dynasty, when it was adopted by the scholar class as a suitable material for teapots and thence for other items for the scholar's studio. In snuff bottles, slip-decorated wares were one of three types popularly produced, the others being enameled and plain pottery wares. Slip is simply a watered-down version of whatever ceramic is being used, which can be applied like a thick paint or used for gluing segments together.
Recent research suggests that these slip-decorated snuff bottles began earlier than was previously thought. Along with the enameled wares, they appear to have been first produced during the latter part of the Qianlong reign.
See a Yixing stoneware bottle of similar shape but decorated with beige slip applied on brown ground, from the J & J collection, sold in our New York Rooms, 22 March 2007, lot 41.