The general shape of this bottle, with a number of minor variations to the base and precise mouth and neck form, was very popular during the nineteenth century. This form was probably inspired by a group of late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth-century Imperial bottles decorated with dragons and imitating pillars wrapped with dragon-carpets (see lot 634, for example). This early group often has a biscuit foot cut with concentric circles, a strictly cylindrical form, and compressed, widely flared neck. In the present case, however, the foot is of the more standard, typically nineteenth-century type for cylindrical bottles, and bears an apocryphal Chenghua mark. As a rule the use of earlier reign marks on porcelain snuff bottles did not begin until the first half of the nineteenth century.
This theme carries a range of symbolism based upon what the children are holding, allowing for several rebuses but with an overriding theme of a wish for male progeny, so important in Confucian society. The image of the bat embodies a wish for happiness or good fortune.