The deer (lu) is linked with both official success and longevity. It is a play on the homonyms for "emolument" or "official salary," and linked with Luxing, the God of Rank and Emolument. Its association with longevity is attributed to the belief that it lived for a long time and that it was the only animal capable of searching out lingzhi, the fungus of immortality. The animal is often shown in the company of Shoulao, the God of Longevity, and Magu, a female immortal. According to ancient Chinese legend, the appearance of a white deer was highly auspicious, symbolizing a harmonious, peaceful kingdom.
Brilliantly carved in the form of a recumbent stag, this bottle is one of only four known examples of this type. Clearly all were made by the same hand, with variances only to accommodate the unique variations in the stone. One of these, from the J&J Collection, was sold at Christie's New York, Important Chinese Snuff Bottles From The J&J Collection, Part IV, 22 March 2007, lot 19, and sold again at Christie's Hong Kong, 7 October 2014, lot 7; another bottle from the same hand is in the collection of Denis Low, formerly in the Gerry Mack Collection and illustrated by R. Kleiner, Treasures from the Sanctum of Enlightened Respect, Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore, 2000, p. 211, no. 182, and which is also reproduced in Chinese Snuff Bottles No. 3, p. 23, fig. 13, and by E. B. Curtis, "Footnote to an Album," JICSBS, Spring 1985, p. 117, along with an illustration of the bottle from an early volume of life-sized watercolour paintings of a collection of snuff bottles. A third example was sold at China Guardian, 18 May 2014, lot 3404.