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Large cinnabar lacquer bottle.

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Author Topic: Large cinnabar lacquer bottle.  (Read 204 times)
forestman
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« on: December 11, 2017, 05:31:15 pm »

After close to a month waiting this finally arrived today.

At 80mm high it is a large bottle and has a replacement stopper that I might sit in the sunlight in the hope it will darken in colour to match the bottle more.

It's unusual in that although it is made around a proper hollow metal body, the tube that forms the neck doesn't end where it meets the top of the hollow body but seems to extend all the way to the base meaning that it had no real practical use for holding snuff except in the tube.

Tapping the inside of the tube shows the bottle is hollow from the noise it makes and there isn't enough weight for the interior to be anything other than hollow.

As such it would seem to be a later bottle whilst not being modern. Layers of lacquer are very clear to see but in the 10's rather than 100's of layers (which are very rare). The colour is deeper than the pictures show.

Regards, Adrian.



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George
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« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2017, 03:13:10 am »

Just want to chime in and say what a nice bottle Adrian..

Congratulations..
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Jungle Jas
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« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2017, 03:28:49 am »

Nicely  carved bottle Adrian. If the internal tube bothers you, you could cut it off with a suitable shaped diamond cutter, but I don't know how you would get the tube out afterwards! I admire  courage in buying a lacquer bottle with out seeing it in the flesh, that is something I would never dare do, as looking at  a picture I am never shure what the bottles are made from.  If you don't mind me asking were did you buy it from?
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forestman
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« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2017, 05:27:04 am »

Thank you George and Jas.

The tube doesn't bother me and I wonder how many other people would check to see if the tube in their bottle was as long !

I bought it from one of the lesser auction houses in London and normally ride up on my motorbike to collect anything but have been a bit busier of late.

As it was an auction buy I could have rejected the lot if they misrepresented it but I was happy it was real from the limited pictures.

Regards, Adrian.
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pookles
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« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2017, 05:31:27 am »

Hi Adrian,

Very nice bottle. Love the carving going on. Cinnabar and organics in general are one of the types I'm always on the lookout for. Interestingly looking at my cinnabar bottle it's almost definitely made out of hundreds of layers. If another snuff bottle meeting does go down we should compare.

Regarding the stopper - good idea to try and put it in the sunlight. I'm assuming it's not the original stopper? Maybe a nice green jade cabochon would also work?

Cheers
Luke
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Luke
forestman
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« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2017, 06:26:16 am »

Hi Luke,

Thanks for the comments. I'm always happy to come up to London, we need to see if Jason will come as well. I think I said before when a meet was mentioned that a trip to the V and A might be nice to work into a meet. I've been there a few times before but never looked at their snuff bottles or inro. I'll bring a decent loupe to see the 100's of layers.

Regards, Adrian.
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pookles
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« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2017, 07:53:41 am »

Hey Adrian,

Yeah the V&A is great. They have their permanent exhibitions downstairs, but a lot of interesting stuff is up on the upper floors in the study rooms, which I didn't find out about at first. I'd particularly like to have a proper look at their jade collection also. Also I've seen the inro collection in the permanent exhibition and it's impressive imo.

A lot of the details on your bottle remind me of mine and if I'm correct I'd say there is probably a hundred layers just where the head has snapped off. That is odd the tube in yours going all the way down. Maybe it's just because they forgot to finish that particular detail? Or slipped past Q&A.

Cheers
Luke
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Luke
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« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2017, 08:09:15 am »

Hi Adrian,

The carving on your bottle appears to be of particularly high quality, richly detailed, and deeply cut in. A previous owner obviously cared enough about it to have a stopper made to replace the missing original. Is the stopper also cinnabar, or resin? 

If the inside tube extends all the way down to the base, forming a snug fit, then I suspect the intention may have been for the bottle to hold just enough snuff for a few days. Otherwise, a bottle this cavernous would take far too much precious powder. When the owner finally reached the bottom, and literally began scraping the barrel, months could have passed, and the contents gone stale. Just my thought....

Tom 
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Joey
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« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2017, 12:51:08 pm »

Dear Adrian,
 
     The quality of the bottle's carving tells me that this is at least ca. 1800-1850, if not earlier. The tube confuses me. Possibly Tom is right, or possibly the tube is a late addition. Is that possible?

     But a superbly carved Cinnabar Lacquer. I'd seriously doubt it has less than 100 layers, and possibly double that.

   Thank you for posting it.
Happy Hanuka,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

forestman
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2017, 03:25:24 pm »

Hi Tom and Joey,

Thank you for your comments. I especially like the detail of the knots in the tree trunks being carved in.

The stopper is carved cinnabar but there are no layers showing in it. I can't really count the layers in the bottle but I would be surprised if it exceeded 50 layers.

There have been other quality cinnabar bottles selling through the big auction houses that are of the same height. As I said, I doubt anyone else has felt the need to check where the inner tube extends to so it may not be that unusual if you consider Tom's logical suggestion for it.

I assume this would likely have been a table bottle as it doesn't sit well in the hand size wise and I would be concerned of damage happening to it if it was carried around to be used.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2017, 02:34:51 am »

Hi Luke,

Thanks for the comments. I'm always happy to come up to London, we need to see if Jason will come as well. I think I said before when a meet was mentioned that a trip to the V and A might be nice to work into a meet. I've been there a few times before but never looked at their snuff bottles or inro. I'll bring a decent loupe to see the 100's of layers.

Regards, Adrian.

Thanks for the invite, If work permits I would love to come. Grin
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Joey
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2017, 06:00:03 am »

Dear Adrian,

      I still think it is 19th C. or possibly earlier, but have just seen a photo of a piece of similar quality which is dated to the early Chinese Republic (ca.1911-1925), because it was in the ownership of the same family at least since 1925, Shanghai Chinese who emigrated to Hawaii in that year.  I asked my friends if they would let me publish the photos on the Forum, but was refused.

     But I find it hard to believe that the bottle has only 50 or less coats of Cinnabar Lacquer; unless it is carved wood which was then lacquered. 50 coats is possibly 1-2 mm thick.
Best,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2017, 07:09:52 am »

Dear Adrian,
very nice bottle.
I canít say something reliable about the age, because it is my conviction, although I am not expert on lacquer, that the good quality of carving alone is not enough for saying that an object is antique.
I believe that there are very skilled lacquer carvers also today. In my opinion what is more relevant to assign an age of a lacquer ware is the quality of polishing, and in particular the difference of polishing and hue color between the parts more or less pronounced, due to handling.
I see your bottle very uniform, but it may be because it has been not so used, who knows.
I donít understand you in supposing that the inside of a bottle is scarcely inspected. I think that everybody inspects carefully the inside of the bottles! The tube protruding until the base is immediately felt even if somebody would not inspect it, because of the limited tilt angle of the spoon.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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forestman
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2017, 07:19:57 am »

Dear Joey,

I have looked through my 25x loupe at the bottle and, besides making my head hurt through  the concentration, it may be that there are over 50 layers due to the depth the carving reaches in places.

I did say in another post about cinnabar lacquer that a 1591 text stated that there was an Imperial order in the Yongle reign that no more than 36 layers of lacquer were to be used so ways were developed to thicken the layers of lacquer because pure coloured lacquer can't be applied in thick layers.

Pure lacquer has a certain viscosity that dictates how thinly it can be applied. It needs to be applied in thin layers as thicker layers don't set all the way through the layer and have a crust that sets stopping air from curing the layer all the way through. They added certain powders like brick dust to the lacquer to thicken it which opened up the structure of the lacquer allowing it to set all the way through.

It is very rare to find cinnabar lacquer items with a hundred layers or more let alone the up to 500 layers sometimes quoted as being standard. If you think of Chinese Tixi lacquer (Guri lacquer in Japan) the layers of alternating colours can be quite thick.

I will try and get some macro pictures of the layers if I have time.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2017, 09:30:38 am »

Dear Adrian,

    Does the prohibition on more than 36 layers say what type of lacquer was restricted?
There are objects which are carved and then lacquered, and there are others where the blank is covered with many coats of lacquer and then carved down.
    And a Ming sumptuary law does not have to mean that the Qing observed it. Many times, the laws were ignored when they were made, much less hundreds of years later.

    Giovanni is correct that quality of carving does not guarantee age; but on the other hand, at certain times the wages paid would necessitate 'cutting corners' re.quality of finish, etc.

   Best,
Happy Hanuka,
Joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

forestman
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2017, 12:05:06 pm »

Dear Joey,

My assumption would be that the maximum of 36 layers related to any lacquer, like cinnabar, that needed to be applied thick enough to then carve as any flat lacquered items would have less than the 36 layers.

I should have added to the previous post in saying any law could be revoked and items made since the Yongle reign have had more than 36 layers, some far more.

I think it was a question of time, not from an expense point of view, in that each layer took a day or more to set so an item with 200 layers would take a year or so before it was even carved. You may have forgotten why you were making it by then  Grin

Having to find a way to put each layer on thicker gave an option to produce faster. What I haven't found as yet is anything that relates to whether making "bastardised" lacquer that could be applied thicker had any effect on the quality of how it carved. If it was felt to be inferior for important items then the older purer lacquered coats would likely have been used.

I agree with you and Giovanni about age and quality. Even if there were harder times or times when general quality slipped in certain periods there would always be craftsmen who wouldn't let their own standards slip.

Happy Hanuka.

Regards, Adrian.

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forestman
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2017, 12:10:14 pm »

Hi Jas,

Lets see if we can meet up in the new year at some point. As I suggested it then I ought to pay for lunch for you and Luke.

Regards, Adrian.
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« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2017, 03:03:45 am »

Hi Adrian & Jas,

Sounds like a plan! That is very kind of you Adrian to offer to buy lunch. Any subsequent meetings and I'd also like to do the same. Let's touch base in the new year and arrange. I'm a busy man at the moment too as I'm guessing we all are, but sure I can squeeze in an SB meet and a visit to the V&A.

Interesting info regarding the thickening of the layers. Would also be interested to see a macro shot if you find the time.

Best
Luke
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Luke
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2017, 04:09:50 am »

Hi Luke,

I'm probably easier time wise than you or Jason so it might be down to you both to find a time that suits and then PM me to let me know.

Here's the best I can do macro wise with my little camera. You can see layers going horizontally across the posts of the building and the men.

Regards, Adrian.


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« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2017, 07:55:24 am »

Adrian,
Thanks for sharing this. Iím wondering if the tube wasnít added later as some sort of reinforcing repair? Looks like your lip was damaged at some point?
Also, want to ask you about brick dust, if I bottle is scratched say on the lip, and contained brick dust, would it show orange? My brother has a bottle like this, and I wondered if this showed it was made out of some sort of ceramic or if itís what youíre describing? Iíll try and dig up a pic.
Cheers,
Rube
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