This bottle belongs to an interesting range of bottles mostly in agate or jade which are all inspired by the same idea of intertwined fish, using the natural markings in the material to considerable and inventive advantage. The group is discussed under no. 158 in Moss et. al., The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle, and in Hugh Moss, Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Silica or Quartz Group, nos. 214 and 215. Many of the bottles appear to be from the same lapidary. The present bottle is one of the more spectacular examples because of the ideal use of the lovely natural material with its variegated red, grey and white colouring.
The combination of carp and catfish here is significant. The images of the catfish alone would conjure up the phrase, niannian youyu, meaning '[May you be blessed with] abundance year after year.' The combination of the images of the catfish and the carp, however, yields another phrase, niannian dali, meaning '[May you be blessed with] great profit year after year.'