Although remarkably effective, white overlays on turquoise-blue ground are, strangely, relatively rare. This bottle is one of the most spectacular of the known examples with its crisp, well-modelled carving in varied relief. The high quality of the carving is epitomized by the very neat, crisp and well-carved footrim, standard in the early Qianlong period on Beijing glass overlays, most of which may well have been produced at the Court, but increasingly compromised by lowered standards from the late-Qianlong period onwards.
The twelve animals of the zodiac, in their correct order, are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig; see Ka Bo Tsang, 'The Horse as a Symbol of Excellence,' JICSBS, Autumn 2002, p. 4. A particularly unusual feature of this version of the animals is the use of a chi dragon in place of the usual long or mang dragon. The chi dragon was a particular favourite of Qing Imperal production, as argued in Moss et. al., A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 1, Jade, no. 99, suggesting a possible Imperial source for this bottle. Although it is difficult to separate the various groups of eighteenth century glass production in Beijing, it seems possible that a great deal of it was produced by the Imperial glassworks, with carving in the Jade and Gold workshops at the Palace, a possible, even likely source for this bottle.