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Charll shared this beautiful Xianfeng (1851-1861) dated bottle depicting NeZha combating the Dragon King amongst a rolling sea of blue and eight mythical sea creatures.


Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
December 04, 2022, 04:10:07 pm
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Black Dragon Design Porcelain Snuff Bottles

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Author Topic: Black Dragon Design Porcelain Snuff Bottles  (Read 947 times)
rpfstoneman
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« on: February 21, 2020, 07:36:09 pm »

All,

I'm back at cataloging a number of snuff bottles in the collection.  Actually just trying to play catch-up on this task.  In doing so I ran across a few black dragon designs on porcelain that I do not think I've shared with the group as of yet. These tend to be unglazed cobalt blue designs, but others actually appear to be black enamel on an unglazed bisque as well.  Here is one of those bottles I acquired in 2018. 

Black Dragon Porcelain Snuff Bottle:
Cylindrical form with straight neck bottle of a fine bisque unglazed white porcelain.  Decorated in a heap-n-pile black enamel of a fierce five-clawed dragon among smoke and flames above a carp leaping from the waters at the bottle base.  Height is 3 3/8 inches or 8.5 cm without stopper.  Floral coral stopper set on an old ivory button collar. 

Period: Report to be c.1900-1950, but I feel the appropriate date range is 1880-1930.

Condition: Good but has a mirror glaze imperfection and small repair to bottle lip.   
 
Provenance:  Quinnís Auction Galleries, December 10, 2011, Lot 99
                      Purchased from John OíHara, Baltimore ICSBS Convention October 2018

Please feel free to provide constructive comments as to the description, dating, etc.   This is a learning process!!

I will share others as I get to them,  Charll
 


* Black Dragon_Quinn_H1038a.jpg (98.61 KB, 480x800 - viewed 38 times.)

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« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 07:48:53 pm by rpfstoneman » Report Spam   Logged

Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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George
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2020, 09:35:22 pm »

"Heap-n-pile black enamel" makes me think of some later famille rose kind of enamels. This looks flat to the surface in the pics.

The symbol for smoke is interesting and new for me, and the unique addition of a carp coming up from the water I have not ever seen with a dragon above water or among clouds themed bottle before..

The style for the painted collar is also new and unusual one for me, but as you know I am not experienced with porcelain bottles. 

Seems strange the artist decided to leave out a flaming pearl or two !

Quite a unique and interesting bottle. Thank you for sharing as you catalogue Charll !

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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2020, 11:44:52 pm »


George,

It is my presumption that the bottle is based on the following proverb.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes "The carp has leaped through the dragon's gate."  ( Liyu Tiao Long Men, 鲤鱼跳龙门 )

"According to Chinese mythology, the Dragonís Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain.   Many carp swim upstream against the riverís strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over the waterfall.  If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon.  A Chinese dragonís large, conspicuous scales indicate its origin from a carp.  The Chinese dragon has long been an auspicious symbol of great and benevolent, magical power.  The image of a carp jumping over Dragonís Gate is an old and enduring Chinese cultural symbol for courage, perseverance, and accomplishment.  Historically, the dragon was the exclusive symbol of the emperor of China and the five-character expression, Liyu Tiao Long Men, was originally used as a metaphor for a personís success in passing very difficult imperial examinations, required for entry into imperial administrative service.   To this day, when a student from a remote country village passes the rigorous national university examination in China, friends and family proudly refer to the ďLiyu Tiao Long Men.Ē  More generally, the expression is used to communicate that if a person works hard and diligently, success will one day be achieved."

What does it mean?  Simply, if a person works hard at whatever he does, he could one day become successful.  This proverb is used to encourage a person to persist in oneís endeavor.  In the past, a carp leaping over the dragonís gate was used as a metaphor for success in passing the imperial exams.  These exams have their beginnings about 2,000 years ago to select the brightest persons for top government positions.  These exams were open to the public and whoever passed the exams could become a government official, thus ensuring wealth and prestige for the family.

Charll


* dragon61.gif (39.57 KB, 231x300 - viewed 16 times.)
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2020, 11:52:34 pm »


George,

It is my presumption that the bottle is based on the following proverb.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes "The carp has leaped through the dragon's gate."  ( Liyu Tiao Long Men, 鲤鱼跳龙门 )

"According to Chinese mythology, the Dragonís Gate is located at the top of a waterfall cascading from a legendary mountain.   Many carp swim upstream against the riverís strong current, but few are capable or brave enough for the final leap over the waterfall.  If a carp successfully makes the jump, it is transformed into a powerful dragon.  A Chinese dragonís large, conspicuous scales indicate its origin from a carp.  The Chinese dragon has long been an auspicious symbol of great and benevolent, magical power.  The image of a carp jumping over Dragonís Gate is an old and enduring Chinese cultural symbol for courage, perseverance, and accomplishment.  Historically, the dragon was the exclusive symbol of the emperor of China and the five-character expression, Liyu Tiao Long Men, was originally used as a metaphor for a personís success in passing very difficult imperial examinations, required for entry into imperial administrative service.   To this day, when a student from a remote country village passes the rigorous national university examination in China, friends and family proudly refer to the ďLiyu Tiao Long Men.Ē  More generally, the expression is used to communicate that if a person works hard and diligently, success will one day be achieved."

What does it mean?  Simply, if a person works hard at whatever he does, he could one day become successful.  This proverb is used to encourage a person to persist in oneís endeavor.  In the past, a carp leaping over the dragonís gate was used as a metaphor for success in passing the imperial exams.  These exams have their beginnings about 2,000 years ago to select the brightest persons for top government positions.  These exams were open to the public and whoever passed the exams could become a government official, thus ensuring wealth and prestige for the family.

Charll


Excellent, and love it !

Thank you Charll..
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2020, 04:32:05 am »

Dear Charll,
You are correct about the meaning of the decoration. It is a well-known motif, especially during Kangxi.
But I do not understand why you are mentioning the heap and pile effect, which occurs on underglaze ware, when the cobalt is applied in high thickness, resulting on surfacing in part through the glaze.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2020, 10:20:01 am »


Giovanni,

Heap and pile as I understand is a layering of the paint to give depth/tone (particularly with cobalt blue designs) and creates a raised tactile feel to the bottle surface which is the case with this unglazed bottle.  The dragon has varying thickness of black enamel in its design and the black washed smoke features are outlined in raised ribbed enamel.  Now this design could have simply been created using varying viscosities of enamel and/or by enamel layering, but the effect is one of heap and pile. 

A thought that just occurred to me is that this bottle could have been created to imitate an unglazed heap and pile cobalt blue design.  Thanks for the comment to get me thinking more about the possible intent with this bottle's design.   

Charll   

 

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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2020, 11:44:41 am »

Dear Charll, you are quite correct, superposed lines are called like that. I was thinking that the words were related to the surfacing of the cobalt on glaze surface, but that is indeed a consequence.
BTW interesting bottle, I donít remember of having seen similar ones before.
I have seen black lines under the glaze, which I do not know how it is made.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2020, 02:12:24 pm »

Here is another black dragon design on porcelain.  This one is a cobalt blue pigment fired without an overglaze.  In this circumstance the cobalt blue oxidizes to black upon firing without the overglaze creating a mat black (non-glossy) finish.   

Black Dragon Porcelain Snuff Bottle:
Cylindrical form bottle of a fine bisque unglazed white porcelain.  Coil ring construction.  A finely painted unglazed cobalt blue design depicting two fierce five-clawed dragons; one dragon encircling the bottle among smoke and flames and another dragon emerging from a sea of rolling waves at the base.  Straight neck bottle with a band of trefoils suspending dots and alternating with dots between trefoils.  Bottle sets on a raised foot-rim with no mark on the base.  Stopper is a jadeite cabochon set on a thin black washer with a thick ivory collar.  Height is 2 7/8 inches or 7.0 cm without stopper.

Period: ca. Xianfeng period (1850-1861) to Tongzhi period (1861-1875).

Provenance:  Originally sold at Dallas Auction Gallery, Dallas, TX, September 10, 2014; Lot 0009
                      Purchased from John OíHara, 2016

Note: an interesting diagnostic with these bottles is that the forelegs of the dragons are not completely scaled to the claws, but have unscaled forelimbs; i.e., some call these 'turkey leg' dragons. 

Charll




* Black Dragon_O'Hara 2016a (2).jpg (90.79 KB, 400x784 - viewed 42 times.)

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* Blue Dragon_Stoneman (Leg).jpg (142.16 KB, 600x450 - viewed 26 times.)
« Last Edit: May 10, 2020, 10:45:52 pm by George » Report Spam   Logged

Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2020, 06:09:46 am »

Dear Charll,
I have seen snuff bottles with black underglaze decoration.
Do you know how they are made? I am supposing that they have been fired in the same way of this last one, and then glazed and fired again.
Don't know if that is true or not.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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