Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇

Public Forum Categories and Boards => Porcelain and Yixing Chinese Snuff Bottles 瓷器和宜兴鼻烟壶 => Topic started by: rpfstoneman on December 16, 2015, 12:44:00 am

Title: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: rpfstoneman on December 16, 2015, 12:44:00 am
Here is an interesting underglazed cobalt blue porcelain snuff bottle depicting the Dragon Taming Luohan.  However I have no idea what the mythical creatures are or what they have to do with the Luohan theme!!!!!!

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What do these creatures have to do with the theme?  Any insight would be appreciated, Charll

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Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: richy88 on December 16, 2015, 01:12:25 am
Hi Charll

Interesting bottle.

From the main photo, it looks like it is the story of Nezha (哪吒) fighting the son of the dragon king of the Eastern Sea.

More information on Nezha can be found here: (

The surrounding creatures are the eight strange sea creatures (海八怪) which are sometime used as a motif on its own.

Hope that helps.



Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: George on December 16, 2015, 01:23:21 am
Very cool bottle Charll !

I was just getting ready to suggest ancient India people of a small kingdom, being incited by a demon went on a rampage against the Buddhists and their monasteries. The Dragon King of the undersea, outraged by this unruly behaviour of humans, punished them all, innocents as well as the guilty, by flooding their entire kingdom.

I thought perhaps this an image of the flood that was incited by a demon. 

Richards story of Nezha makes much more sense..

Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: YT on December 16, 2015, 01:33:56 am
Dear Charll,

this bottle has a rare story and I was going to suggest some cartoon character if not for the good quality and Richard's more reliable assumption.

Can we have a better view of the man?


Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: Pat - 查尚杰 on December 16, 2015, 03:59:16 am
I really like this bottle Charll! 


Thanks for the explanation...

Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: rpfstoneman on December 16, 2015, 11:04:08 pm
From the main photo, it looks like it is the story of Nezha (哪吒) fighting the son of the dragon king of the Eastern Sea.

More information on Nezha can be found here:

The surrounding creatures are the eight strange sea creatures (海八怪) which are sometime used as a motif on its own


Thanks identifying the theme and providing the source of information.  Everything fits expect the figure (presumably Nezha) is depicted here as either a very big chubby boy or has reached manhood :D.  And Yes there are eight mythical creatures painted on the bottle. 

( ( ( (

Another interesting observation is that this bottle almost assuredly has a Xianfeng Period (1851-1861) four character mark that is well placed and balanced, but has been ground in an effort to obscure the mark.  I can just make out portions of the mark under magnification.  The late Robert Kleiner has told me in the past that mark removal was done to hide the fact that the item was lifted/stolen from the imperial family or other imperial palaces, workshops, etc.  I wonder if it is indeed the case here, for the quality of the bottle is exceptional.  Other then an unexplained fine horizontal line in the design toward the top of the bottle it has high workmanship, great blue tonal use, and very fine details in the painting of the images.

( ( 

My presumption is this bottle is Xianfeng 'mark and period', and likely imperial if the comments on ground off marks have merit.  Interesting!!!!!!

It is a really nice bottle!  Charll     

Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: Fiveroosters aka clayandbrush on December 17, 2015, 02:00:18 am
Dear Charll,
the quality of your bottle is really exceptional, it may well be imperial. Very very nice. I heard that imperial mark were often erased during Mao era being the owner afraid that their object could be confiscated and destroyed.

Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: rpfstoneman on December 17, 2015, 12:58:17 pm

Thank you all for the comments and added information.  I still need to catalog this bottle and appreciated the fact that I can use your collective knowledge to assist me in this process. Often I can gain insight relatively easy with my own research, but the theme on this bottle had me stumped.  Thus a more of a asking for help request on the initial post.   I was going the same direction as George's comments thinking it was one of the eighteen Luohans;i.e., the Dragon Tamer Luohan.  But that did not quite fit.  I do believe Richard provided the right direction with the figure of Nezha being represented in an older more tradition form.  The Chinese cartoon or comic representation Nezha today is quite different and very modernized. 

Once I get the bottle cataloged I come back with a more comprehensive description and more views of the bottle.  Thank you all again for the comments and help, Charll 

Title: Re: Dragon Taming Luohan
Post by: Joey on January 01, 2016, 05:34:05 am
Dear Charll,

     I just saw this post.
     I had two Imperial Palace Workshops jade bottles, both originally with Qianlong marks.
one, which Sotheby's claims is the true colour of Muttonfat Jade, a creamy rosy beige, has a perfect Qianlong nianzhi mark, and is now in another collection, was stolen out of the Palace between 1911 and 1924, most probably by a Eunuch to 'contribute' to his 'pension fund'  ;). It was purchased in Beijing by an English seacaptain in 1925.

    The second, a pure white, but otherwise the mate to the first, was stolen between 1890 and 1911, and had most of the mark ground off. One can still recognise part of the 'Qian' character, the 'dog's tail' of Mrs. Lilla Perry's mnemonic trick (pronounced "nemonic' - the first 'm' is not heard. Just learned that, after mispronouncing the word for almost 46 years!  ;D).

   This bottle was probably purchased by a Chinese collector in Beijing in 1909, and was 'liberated' by a Japanese officer in Beijing in 1937, and it had gotten to Nakatani & Co., in Chicago by 1940. It was part of the stock of Nakatani & Co., frozen by the US gov't after 7.Dec.1941, and returned to Mr. Nakatani and his nephew Mr. Saito, in the late 1940s.

    They sold it to a local collector a few years later, and in the 1980s, it was bought back as part of the now late collector's estate from her children by Mr. Saito. He was by this time the owner of the firm after his uncle's death, and had changed the firm's name to "Saito & Co. (Formerly Nakatani & Co.)".
He could not have paid very much, since I got it for US$120!

   But it seems the reason to grind off the Imperial mark is as the late Robert Kleiner suggested, rather than Giovanni's also plausible suggestion.

   While it may have no bearing on this issue, if you look at # 109 in "Dragon", you will see a bottle of mine from the Imperial kilns from ca.1780-1820. However, the base which may well have had a genuine Qianlong or Jiaqing Imperial mark, was covered in slip and refired and then painted with an Imperial 4 character Xianfeng nianzhi mark. This may well have been done after the Imperial kilns were destroyed in 1855.
Shabbat Shalom,

Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: rpfstoneman on September 04, 2021, 08:40:37 pm
All, I finally have gotten around to completing the cataloging of the bottle at the start of this thread.  Thanks to Richard's initial help, and a more recent Forum discussion with a group of you, it spurred me to go back and expand my write-up on this bottle.  The crispness in the design is what one might expect to see in a soft paste cobalt blue porcelain, but this is with all it's fine crisp detail is a hard-paste blue and white example from the 3rd quarter of the 19th century. 

Blue & White Hard-Paste Porcelain Snuff Bottle:
Cylindrical shape cobalt blue porcelain bottle with straight throat and wide mouth.  Design appears to depict NeZha combating the Dragon King or one of the sons amongst a rolling sea of blue and eight mythical sea creatures.  Rich varying tones of light and dark cobalt blue in high detail that shows NeZha with his magical ring in hand ridding the back of a confronting dragon.  Pendant trefoiled neck of a single dot below each trefoil with a single dot between indicating a period of Xianfeng (1851-1861) or later.  Dragon scales are individually painted (i.e., not cross-hatched) which is a rarity in such late 19th century bottles.  Thin walled, translucent, coil ring construction with glazed interior.  Raised unglazed foot with what looks to be a well-placed, ground-off, 4-character Xianfeng cobalt blue mark.  Height is just under 3 inches or 7.5 cm without stopper.

Period: ca 1851-1861 Xianfeng mark and period, possibly imperial.

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Condition: Other than ground-off reign mark, near pristine.  Though measured surface abrasion and scuffing of the main body from use.   No stopper or spoon at purchase.

Provenance:  Unknown

The Story Behind the Scene:  Like all boys, NeZha was born from his mother’s womb.  That, however, is where NeZha similarity to most boys’ end.

While not known to many in the West, for Chinese, NeZha has been a household name from mythology to techno dances, popular movies to classical novels such as Investiture of the Gods and Journey to the West.  According to legend, it all began 3,000-4,000 years ago, during the Shang Dynasty in northeastern China.  A military commander, Li Jing, anxiously awaiting the birth of his third child.  And he was anxious for good reason, for his wife’s pregnancy had lasted three years and six months.

The night before going into labor, his wife, Lady Yin, dreamt she saw a Daoist immortal sweeping his magical whisk across her belly.  He asked to accept the child being conferred upon her, and to call him “NeZha”.
The next day, Lady Yin gave birth to a large, round ball of flesh – basically a meatball.  Shocked and disappointed, her husband suspected the anomaly to be demonic and drew his sword.  He proceeded to strike the fleshy mass, piecing the surface and revealing, to a amazement, a grown, vivacious child – NeZha.
Shortly after, a Daoist immortal arrived and offered to take the boy as is disciple.  Both parents consented, with the Daoist then bestowing NeZha with a magic instrument – the Cosmic Wheel (qian kun lun).

NeZha Enrages an Evil Dragon

The extent of NeZha’s extraordinary powers would soon be revealed.  One hot day, NeZha, eager to cool off, went bathing in a nearby sea.  Still unaware of the power that his magical instrument possessed, he took his Cosmic Wheel – the shape of a medium hula-hoop but heavier than any mortal could lift – and swished it around, only to end up causing massive tremors deep in the waters below.

( ( The tremors caused by NeZha shook the underwater palace of the Dragon King of the East Sea.  The enraged Dragon King ordered on of his scouts to find out who or what was the causing the chaos.

Upon discovering NeZha, a mere boy, to be the culprit of the seaside antics, the scout expected to kill him with ease.  With one blow of his Cosmic Wheel, though, NeZha killed the scout.  Learning of this, the Dragon King sent his favorite son to deal with NeZha.  NeZha killed him as well.

Overcome with rage, the Dragon King vowed to report NeZha’s crimes to the Jade Emperor – supreme ruler of the heavens and mortal realms.  NeZha, however, dashed to the gates of the Jade Emperor’s palace and arrived there before the Dragon King.  Using in invisibility charms, he caught the Dragon King by surprise and served him a round of blows before he could see the Jade Emperor. 

Perhaps what has made NeZha so endearing, his unlikely powers aside, is the ebullient, playful persona of this age-defying folk hero.  Ultimately NeZha, and figures like him, invite us to partake in a world of wonder, a world where the horizons of human possibility are stretched, always for the better.
(Source: , February 19, 2014)

Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: Joey on September 05, 2021, 09:44:09 am
Dear Charll,

 Very interesting, but if 'Song' [Sung sic] Dynasty, ca. 960-1276.
Did you mean 'Shang' Dynasty ?
their dates are 1600 - 1046 BCE and indeed 3,000-4,000 years ago +-.

Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: rpfstoneman on September 05, 2021, 12:00:53 pm

Joey, thanks for the correction.  It is Shang, while typing my mind saw Sung or my computer did an auto correct without me catching it.  Again, appreciate you noticing the needed correction.


Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: George on September 05, 2021, 02:08:42 pm
An amazing bottle and really enjoy this detailed description behind the theme..

Thank you Charll !

Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: Wattana on September 06, 2021, 12:43:44 am

An exceptional bottle, with a story and photography to match.
I appear to have missed the original post in 2015.
Thanks for sharing.


Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: Fiveroosters aka clayandbrush on September 06, 2021, 12:54:57 pm
Dear all,
in 2016 I posted a molded bottle with Nezha subject:,3090.msg41591.html#msg41591
In that discussion, George posted a link to this thread, started the year before. I like that bottle because of the subject.
But, dear Charll, your one is miles ahead in matter of quality!
Superb bottle.
Kind regards

Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: Wattana on September 06, 2021, 10:23:05 pm
Dear Giovanni,

Thank you for the links shared in your post from 2016 (which I also missed).
I especially like NeZha's official Daoist name: "Marshal of the Central Altar" (中壇元帥)

It was interesting to note that this deity is derived from two figures from Hindu mythology.
The Hindu-Buddhist-Daoist overlap has always fascinated me.


Title: Re: NeZha Combating the Dragon
Post by: Joey on September 18, 2021, 07:21:04 pm
Dear Charll,

    One correction:
Its Xianfeng mark must be of the period because a fake Xianfeng mark is EXTREMELY rare. Actually, i've never heard of one. And if possibly Imperial; while the Xianfeng Emperor himself reigned from 1851 to 1862, his government was only in control of Jingdezhen and  its porcelain production from 1851 to 1854 or latest, 1855, since the Taiping criminals conquered it then.

And when the Imperial troops returned to reconquer it in 1858, the Taiping destroyed the whole place including kilns, and murdered every man, woman and child they couldn't carry off into slavery.
And while the Xianfeng Emperor started to rebuild in 1858, his successor the Tongzhi Emperor did not succeed in getting Jingdezhen's production restarted till 1865.
So your proper dates for the bottle should be 1851 - 1854/1855.

Hugh Moss claimed 1853, but that was the start of the Taiping Rebellion, not when they conquered Jingdezhen.
And so, even more rare.