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Early Medicine Flasks

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George
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« on: September 20, 2011, 02:16:12 pm »

Early Medicine Flasks



Raymond Li writes in his book, "The Medicine-Snuff Bottle Connection" about how the majority of dealers will describe cylindrical porcelain bottles, and especially those with underglaze red and blue decoration, as being originally early medicine flasks.
 
A mistaken viewpoint suggesting that the snuff bottle, during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was a kind of metamorphosable container and that many medicine phials were converted into snuff bottles in order to meet the heavy demand for snuff taking.

Since that time, however, the cylindrical porcelain bottle has continued to be produced, whether characterized as a kind of medicine-snuff bottle or not.



Many dealers would like to have collectors believe that most of the cylindrical underglaze blue porcelain bottles were made in the Yung-cheng reign (1723-1735) as indicated by the base-mark.
 
A smaller number they suggest were made in the reign of Kang-Hsi (1662-1722) as marked.
 
Even fewer were made in the Cheng-Hwa reign (1465-1487) of the Ming dynasy, as marked.
 
As a matter of fact, according to Mr Li, none of these bottles were made during the periods shown, all dating from the nineteenth of even the twentieth century.

From an analysis of traces of their former contents, "Tentative Conclusions On Epaulet Bottles" (below) that these bottles served both for snuff and for medicine.

In China it is customary to use a single type of spoon for different purposes. They do not have different categories such as teaspoons, desert spoons or tablespoons but use only one type: One-kind-fits-all.

The general rule can also be extended to certain categories of miniature containers which could also be used for more than one purpose.

 
Tentative Conclusions On "Epaulet" Bottles. From Raymond Li's, "The Medicine-Snuff Bottle Connection."

1) The production of underglazed blue and red porcelain bottles exceeded that of any other of this kind during the nineteenth century so that they not only satisfied snuffers but also entered many homes as a part of the family emergency medical ket from 1800 on, extending even into the period of the Republic of China.

2) It is highly probable that the specific "Epaulet" code mark on these bottles was specially commissioned by a few of the leading Halls, which used these wares as containers for ordinary remedies reserving; jade, silver and overlay glass bottles for the most precious medicines.
 
3) Another possibility is that certain medicine hall used such bottles for their patent medicines, with the individual "Epaulet" representing different remedies.

4) In comparison with other kinds of bottles, the "Epaulet" marked bottles are truly not as elegant or refined as the freely but carefully painted kind. In many cases they may have been given away by medicine retailers as a complimentary advertisement when medicine was sold at a good price.

5) I (Raymond Li) have good reason to believe that the Safe Powder, widely used over the whole of China after the Cheng Lung period, especially in the central and southern regions, largely replaced snuff as the product which these bottles were intended to contain.
 
6) One of the outstanding characteristics of these "Epaulet" bottles is the faithfulness with which the makers portrayed familiar subject matter from the Peking operas, folk lore and old paintings. In this way users would pay careful attention to the design which were drawn from an important part of their cultural heritage.   
« Last Edit: January 16, 2020, 04:15:26 am by George » Report Spam   Logged

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Pat - 查尚杰
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2011, 08:10:16 pm »

Thanks George.  This confirms my earlier suspicion that most of these type of porcelain bottles were indeed made in the (late) 1800s - early 1900s (and now still today, in mass....).  Dating these is especially difficult, so for me ANY of these is at best 1850-1912 (after which snuff gradually disappeared) OR just plain newer, and produced from the 1960s onward.

I do not have this publication from Raymond Li but have 2 of his other books.
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2011, 11:05:02 pm »



I do not have this publication from Raymond Li but have 2 of his other books.

I am only familiar with one other... "A Glossary of Chinese Snuff Bottles Rubus."  Going to see if I can find it through the library as well..

What is the name of the other one that you have ?
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2011, 11:45:43 pm »

This is one:

Li, Raymond: A GLOSSARY OF CHINESE SNUFF BOTTLE REBUS. Re-Discovering the Hidden Beauty in
Snuff Bottles. Hong Kong, 1976. 56 pp. 117 illustrations, 53 in colour. 23x16 cm

The other is Snuff Bottle Terminology - Chinese and English Equivalents - Part 1: Glass - Agate - Quartz, 80 pages

Found some others in a post between George and Richard below but there may more given the title of the second book as Part 1, but I am only aware of the three we discussed here:

From Richard :

For those who are not familiar with Chinese history and culture or the language, I would like to recommend the following books for your reference:

A Glossary Of Chinese Snuff Bottle Rebus by Raymond Li
Chinese Snuff Bottle Themes, Popular Stories & Fables by Raymond Li

Raymond is a collector cum dealer in Hong Kong many years ago and had since pass on. His son is now carrying on his business.

He also published a few other titles that are also good reference books:

Snuff Bottle Terminology
The Art Of Imitation In Chinese Snuff Bottles
The Medicine-Snuff Bottle Connection
The Miniature Arts In China
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2011, 12:43:44 am »

A Glossary Of Chinese Snuff Bottle Rebus
Chinese Snuff Bottle Themes, Popular Stories & Fables
Snuff Bottle Terminology - Chinese and English Equivalents - Part 1: Glass - Agate - Quartz
The Art Of Imitation In Chinese Snuff Bottles
The Medicine-Snuff Bottle Connection
The Miniature Arts In China
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2011, 03:13:43 am »

Thank you Pat..

Excellent information !
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« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2011, 02:20:10 pm »


In addition to the cylindrical bottles, another form popular for makily remedies was the square or rectangular bottle..

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