The design on this bottle is one of the rarer subjects found on Imperial porcelain from the Daoguang period which bears lengthy inscriptions. The well-known group of porcelain bottles decorated with the subject of Queen Victoria, to which the present bottle is related by its inscriptions, can be confidently dated to the latter part of the reign, suggesting a possible date for the present example.
Crabs, especially when depicted amidst waterweeds, are symbolic of promotion in officialdom. See for example, another Daoguang-marked bottle illustrated in Snuff Bottles. The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2003, pl. 353.
The inscription on the bottle describes the characteristics and behaviour of crabs, and likens their movement to the act of bowing in a show of respect.