H. Hui and P. Lam suggest that the theme of two Manchu officials on different mounts derives from renderings of the Imperial hunting trip called Qiuli (Autumn hunting), which was instituted by the Kangxi emperor and continued into the Daoguang reign in the early nineteenth century. Between 1740 and 1745 the Qianlong emperor ordered the painters at the Royal Painting Academy to illustrate this event (see Hui and Lam, The Imperial Connection. Court Related Chinese Snuff Bottles, no. 115). There are other possible interpretations of the subject, however. The racoon dog (gouhuan, nyctereutes procyonoides) together with the camel (luotuo) make up a visual pun for the term, huanluo, meaning joy and happiness. While the officials depicted signify a bureaucratic career much aspired for by most intellectuals, several felicitous puns are hidden in other decorative elements. The dog (gou or chuan) and the horse (ma) together suggest chuanma, a term expressing loyalty. The dog and the saddle (ma'an) produce another term, anchuan, which means safety. The rifles (changqiang) stand for prosperity (changsheng). The camel (luotuo) with two humps (feng) suggests abundance and happiness (fengluo). The quiver (jiandai) conveys the hope that many generations (dai) will be blessed with all these good things.
For other snuff bottles with Manchu equestrian imagery, see R. Kleiner, Chinese Snuff Bottles. A Miniature Art from the Collection of Mary and George Bloch, p. 211, no. 153; Snuff Bottles. The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, p. 224, no. 341, with Daoguang mark and design of a Manchu equestrian leading a dog and of a hunting scene; and another Daoguang bottle decorated with piebald horse, formerly from the J & J Collection, sold in these rooms, 25 April 2004, lot 821.