For the significance of the combination of the dragon and tiger, see Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, vol. 5, Glass, no. 1041. The association of these two beasts with two of the Eighteen Luohan resulted in the idiomatic expression, xianglong fuhu, which refers to the unique powers of an individual to overcome extreme difficulties or powerful adversaries. The dragon and the tiger are also associated, respectively, with the clouds and the wind, and the idiomatic expression: 'The meeting of the wind and the clouds', signifies an opportune moment and is often used to allude to talented people coming into critical situations at just the right moment. The underlying message can therefore be construed: 'May an opportune moment arrive soon so you can demonstrate your ability'. The strange beast in the foreground appears to be a rather nervous looking deer (lu), a symbol of longevity, but also a rebus for emolument (lu) or the rewards of high office, perhaps suggesting that if the owner grasped the moment with his extraordinary talents, he would find himself rewarded by high office. A cylindrical porcelain bottle decorated with a similar design, but lacking the deer and decorated only in underglaze blue, is in the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum and illustrated by M. C. Hughes, The Blair Bequest, p. 226, no. 311.
It is notoriously difficult to control underglaze copper red and still more difficult to control it in combination with underglaze cobalt blue. Here the line of the blue is unusually precise and sharp, which the copper red has also fired to an ideal color.
Colonel R. M. Munro was, apparently, the first female Colonel in the British Army. She served in the Royal Army Medical Corps stationed in Hong Kong, where she was posted in 1964, having previously served in Britain, Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, Malta and India. She was an avid collector of Chinese art.