Luohan are Buddhists who have attained perfect enlightenment and act as worldly conduits to the state of indefinitely expanded consciousness granted by the experience. They are the legendary sixteen disciples of Buddha, but in their introduction to China and Japan, two more were added (and even far larger groupings are known).
The same subject is also found in other color combinations, and particularly in early cream-colored molded porcelain bottles of the very finest quality, which can be dated to the late Qianlong or early Jiaqing period.
Similar bottles molded with luohan are illustrated by B. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, New York, 1976, p. 95, no. 278; by M. Hughes, The Blair Bequest, Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Princeton University Art Museum, Baltimore, 2002, p. 195, no. 252; and by H. Moss, Snuff Bottles of China, London, 1971, pp.126-27, no. 297. A cream-glazed example in the Victoria and Albert Museum is illustrated by H. White, Snuff Bottles from China, London, 1992, pl. 115, no. 3. Another comparable molded bottle with the Eighteen Luohan, from the J&J Collection, was sold at Christie's New York, 17 September 2008, lot 52.