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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
November 26, 2022, 05:22:32 pm
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Cobalt Blue Dragon Snuff Bottle Designs

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Author Topic: Cobalt Blue Dragon Snuff Bottle Designs  (Read 1501 times)
rpfstoneman
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« on: March 26, 2020, 06:45:27 pm »

All,

This bottle has an unusual dragon design.  Typically in such dragon motifs there is a main (predominant) dragon that is encircling the main body of the bottle (as is the case here) with a single subordinate dragon emerging from the sea/waves to challenge the main dragon in the pursuit of the “pearl of wisdom”.  On occasion I have seen bottles with 2 emerging dragons from the waters at the base of the bottle, but in this case, it is the first time I've seen a motif with 5 subordinate dragons.
 
Thought I would share what I think is atypical dragon design, and if any of you have seen such designs with multiple emerging dragons from the bottle's base I would love to hear about them.
 
Charll

Underglaze Cobalt Blue Porcelain Snuff Bottle with Dragons:
A cylindrical shape bottle tapering toward base in underglaze cobalt blue depicting a predominant five clawed dragon encircling the bottle in pursuit of a flaming pearl among smoke billows and intermingled flames.  Five subordinate dragons are rising from a rolling sea with periodic cresting waves.   Good use of tonal contrast and detail in the painting of the dragons and accompanying scene.  Use of darker blue areas on the dragon’s claws, tongue area, scales dots and back spine spikes.

Bottle has a single pendant dot between a trefoil neck.  This neck design is common on bottles from the Daoquang period and in use in subsequent periods.  Etched brass stopper with natural coral cabochon.  Bottle height with stopper is 3 ½ inches.

Period: ca. 1821-1860, likely Jingdezhen Kilns.

Provenance:  From the estate of the granddaughter of the American painter Juliet Burdoin.

 

 


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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2020, 09:10:38 pm »

Charll,

Yes, an unusual number of dragons. I'm not sure if there is any symbolic significance. Perhaps one of our Chinese scholars can enlighten us.

Thanks for posting. A welcome relief to take our minds off the current news.

Tom
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2020, 01:59:26 am »

Dear Charll,
what an interesting bottle! Never seen that before.
When I saw the first pictures, I thought that the dragons were five in total, being this a recurrent number in Chinese iconography, while here we have five of one type, plus the main dragon.
Nice bottle, congratulations.
I am always amazed by your descriptions, you have a particular ability for that.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2020, 02:50:09 am »

Typically in such dragon motifs there is a main (predominant) dragon that is encircling the main body of the bottle (as is the case here) with a single subordinate dragon emerging from the sea/waves to challenge the main dragon in the pursuit of the “pearl of wisdom”. 

I learned a lot from this part of your usual in depth description Charll..

I had never heard the single dragon emerging referred to as "subordinate".  Found that very interesting.

Also did not know the flaming pearl is a "pearl of wisdom"..

Thank you Charll, and beautiful bottle !
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« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2020, 06:42:38 pm »

Dear Charll,

      Beautiful bottle. Congratulations.
I would have dated the bottle ca. 1820 - 1855 [1855 is when the Taiping criminals destroyed the whole city of Jingdezhen
and murdered or enslaved and carried off, all the inhabitants, as the Qing Imperial Forces were coming to defeat them.].

    And the "Pearl of Wisdom", AKA the "Flaming Celestial Pearl",
is also referred to as the "Sun".    Roll Eyes Shocked Grin

Best,
Joey
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 02:31:32 pm by Joey » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2020, 08:22:48 pm »

Quote
the "Pearl of Wisdom", AKA the "Flaming Celestial Pearl"; i.e., the "sun".

Joey,

Thanks for the opinion on dating, and the added comment and content on the motif.  I was notified today that the bottle has arrived and it is presently setting at the Post Office.  Will have to wait till Monday to pick up the parcel.  Bummer!!!   Cry

Charll
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2020, 02:30:16 am »

Dear Charll,

      Patience is a virtue...
Best,
joey
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« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2020, 04:03:44 pm »

Lovely Bottle Charll!  Thanks for the great photos and description.  This one is most unusual.  Hope it arrives safely. 
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2020, 12:19:09 am »

The Dragon and the Chrysanthemum - after a long wait this cobalt blue dragon design bottle just arrived.  It was one among five snuff bottles at auction that were part of an Art of China and Far East online auction in Warsaw Poland in late August 2020.  All the snuff bottles (2-20th century IPBs, a late 19th century pattern glass bottle, a stone bottle, and said bottle) did not receive any interest and were passed over.  Following the close of the auction I was surprised to see that the dragon porcelain bottle did not sell within the bid estimate of 1,200 to 1,800 PLN (Polish dollars) which is $328 to $493 US.  So I contacted the auction house with an offered 1000 PLN, they accepted and there was an 18% premium, thus 1180 PLN for the bottle.   

Now making an offer for the bottle was the easy part. The hard part was paying for the bottle and shipping which could only be done by wire transfers, then there were fees charged by the banks on both ends.  When said and done another 820 PLN, two bank visits, a long interchange of emails and the wait to get it out of Poland.  Once the bottle arrived it was well worth the effort.

Cobalt Blue Dragon & Chrysanthemums Snuff Bottle:
A cylindrical shape bottle with a modest flared mouth depicting a distinctive dark blue dragon in flight in pursuit of a swirling pearl across a dense ground of flowering chrysanthemums intwined with leafy foliage.  Ruyi-head design neck border and a well-placed, balanced, four-character Shunzhi Nianzhi (made in the Shunzhi period, 1644-1661) mark in blue on the base.  Except for the interior throat, which is glazed, the balance of the bottle interior is unglazed.  The stopper is a carved hat of ruddy colored agate, with an old fibrous cork plug, and horn/hoof material spoon.  Height without stopper is 2 ¾ inches (7.0 cm) by 1 inch wide (2.5 cm). 

The dragon and chrysanthemum is an unusual and uncommon design in snuff bottles.  The chrysanthemum is a much-loved flower in China and is often portrayed in pictures.  It is a symbol of joy and longevity, and a wish for peaceful retirement.  It sounds similar to 居 jū ‘to reside, to endure’ and 久 jiǔ ‘long time’.  Emblem of joy, the Chrysanthemum is symbol of long life or duration, and represents autumn, one of the four seasons in the same way as the plum flower (winter), the peony (spring) and the lotus flower (summer) represent the other seasons.  When combined with the image of the Dragon or Lion, the chrysanthemum reinforces the meaning of courage.

Period: ca. 1820-1880, Jingdezhen Kilns

Condition: Thought the bottle appears crisp and clean there are measured surface abrasions from use.

Provenance:  DESA Unicum, The Art of China and the Far East, Online Auction, Warsaw, Poland, Aug 31 to Oct 5, 2020, Lot 6743.

Thought I would share the whole experience Cheesy while I was cataloging the bottle.  Charll


   


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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2020, 08:55:09 am »

You worked hard and certainly well deserved reward !  Fantastic, and a blue and white theme I have never seen before.

Congratulations Charll. Thank you for sharing the bottle and the whole experience !
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2020, 02:45:57 pm »

Dear Charll,

     A beautiful bottle which reminds me of #11 in my catalogue "In Search of a Dragon".
Mine, which has an apocryphal Ming Jiajing mark, is done in the inky purplish blue tones common to Jiajing B&W wares.
Because the scales look to me crosshatched and with a blue wash, I'd date yours ca.1845-1855 / 1865-1880.
Are they indeed done that way?
I calculate that 1,820 Polish Zlotys [Dollars? Really?] is equivalent to US$ 480.00.
A beautiful bottle at a bargain price.
Best,
Joey
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2020, 06:08:48 pm »

Quote
I calculate that 1,820 Polish Zlotys [Dollars? Really?] is equivalent to US$ 480.00.

Joey,

The use of PLNs was to present an image of what I was dealing with in trying to figure the actual costs.  Also, your addition is just a bit off.  Wink  Bottle plus premium was 1180 PLN + 820 PLN for fees and shipping = 2000 PLN divided by the conversion rate of 3.65 = $548 US Dollars. 

Regarding the scales, it is crossing hatching and sorta not.  The best way to describe it is a "netted cross hatch".  Not entirely straight lines but curvilinear lining and individual scale connection in some areas.

Charll   
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« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2020, 01:33:23 am »

Dear Charll, all,
I have since days serious difficulty with my internet and telephone connection, due to some damages on the long wire lines connecting my home.
Don’t know if this message will arrive, but I would like to congratulate you with that bottle, a very nice one.
I have never seen before that sort of bifurcated nails.
Let stop here and try to send the message.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2020, 03:04:36 pm »

Dear Charll,

Congratulations on a very interesting and rare B&W porcelain snuff bottle.  Upon reading your acquisition saga, my first thought was that it was passed over due to being larger than average but that isn't the case.  The only explanation is the motley group that it was offered with.  I agree with Joey on the dating of 1845-1855 since the dragon's scales fall into a transitional category between the early Qing style individually drawn and the late Qing cross hatched.  It is probably dragons drawn like yours that inspired later artists to take the further shortcut and cross hatch the scales.

About buying from unknown foreign auctions, I have done that several times in the past with only one that cheated me for a nice gold decorated, powder blue ground Qianlong mark & period porcelain bowl. After I 'won' it I arranged a Bank transfer for the bowl plus shipping that they acknowledged receiving.  Then I never heard from them again.  Always try to pay with PayPal when possible even if they want to charge you a 3 percent surcharge for PayPal's fees.  Live and learn.

Best regards,

Tom B.
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Best regards,

Tom B.

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« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2020, 11:21:01 am »


Tom B.,

Thanks for sharing your additional thoughts and help in hewing in on a tighter period for the bottle. 

Regarding the Polishish auction house, PayPal was not an option, nor anything else other then a wire transfer.  DESA Unicum, the auction house, seems to be well regarded and I just had to have faith that it would all work.  I was encouraged by their apparent professionalism and their very good email correspondence (even working around their poor English and my non-Polish speaking skills) and the status updates provided over the process. 

Charll   
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« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2020, 09:49:09 am »

Dear Charll,

It's been a long while, hope everyone in your family is well. Your obsession with dragon is on par or sometimes even stronger than me and I'm born in the year of the dragon. Again congratulations on these two rare bottles.

The following observations came from my heartfelt feeling and in no way contradictory to our B&W experts here.

First is the Dragon and the chrysanthemum.
The dragon scales are drawn in a way done on paintings before Ming Dynasty, slightly rounded and pleasing to view. Flying among Chrysanthemum ground and the made in ShunZhi year is rare as this is the only example I've ever seen.

The second bottle with the main dragon battling five smaller dragon. This is another fine bottle well painted and depicting another rare painting.
Most likely the painter could have been drunk and drawn Song dynasty famous painter Chen Rong's Six Dragons onto the bottle Grin
Below link from Christies lot 507 says it all.

https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/chen-rong-13th-century-as-catalogued-in-6061275-details.aspx

Cheers,
YT
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« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2020, 02:04:56 pm »

Dear YT, what a painting!!!
Thank you for the link.
Kind regards
Giovanni
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« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2020, 05:46:02 pm »

My pleasure Giovanni.
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« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2020, 01:56:42 am »

Dear Charll,

While reading, I came across an old post of yours... https://snuffbottle.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,2816.0.html
It is quite similar to the Dragon flying amidst Chrysanthemum bottle in terms of the Dragon scales and the ShunZhi mark.

Cheers,
YT
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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2020, 04:16:01 pm »

Dear YT,

    Wow! That painting! I just saw it.
Magnificent. But I'd have been almost down to eating beans on toast the rest of my life!
Best,
Joey
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