Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chinese Silver Enamel Fragrance Carrier

Below is the exquisite and rare Chinese silver enamel fragrance carrier from my collection.

Life in the past was not the most aromatic. Hence, noble ladies carried with them this type of fragrance carrier to help them recover from the noxious smells. This is one such beautiful piece which has managed to survive years to be presented today.

The whole fragrance carrier is in a great condition. It is an extraordinary piece with excellent colour and craftsmanship with enamel work. The piece must have been worn by a member of the aristocracy or possibly even a member of the imperial court. It comprises a fish motif panel on top, functioned as a hook which allows the set to be suspended from a belt. The whole fragrance carrier is in a round shape with dragon motifs on each sides. Five dangles or bells is attached at the bottom part of the carrier where the light jangly noise is heard when it moves.

Length: 17cm.

Picture 1

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Picture 3
The unclear mark at the back of the hook.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Chinese Snuff Bottles

Snuff bottles were used by the Chinese during the Qing Dynasty to contain powdered tobacco. The size of a snuff bottle is small enough to fit inside the palm. They were made out of many different materials including porcelain, jade, ivory, wood, tortoiseshell, metal and ceramic, though probably the most commonly used material was glass.

Smoking tobacco was illegal during the Dynasty, but the use of snuff was allowed because the Chinese considered snuff to be a remedy for common illnesses such as colds, headaches and stomach disorders. Therefore, snuff was carried in a small bottle like other medicines. The snuff bottle is comparable to the snuff box used by Europeans. However, Chinese snuff bottles were typically decorated with paintings or carvings, which distinguished bottles of different quality and value. Decorative bottles were, and remain, time-consuming in their production and are thus desirable for today's collectors.

Tobacco was introduced to the court at Beijing some time during the mid to late 16th century. It was originally smoked in pipes before the establishment of the Qing Dynasty. The use of snuff and snuff bottles spread through the upper class, and by the end of the 17th century it had become a part of social ritual to use snuff. This lasted through most of the 18th century. Eventually, the trend spread into the rest of the country and into every social class. It was common to offer a pinch of snuff as a way to greet friends and relatives. Snuff bottles soon became an object of beauty and a way to represent status. The highest status went to whoever had the rarest and finest snuff bottle. The peak of snuff bottle manufacture was during the 18th century.

The use of snuff increased and decreased with the rise and fall of the Qing Dynasty and died away soon after the establishment of the Republic of China. However, replica snuff bottles are still being made, and can be purchased in souvenir shops, flea markets and museum gift shops. Original snuff bottles from the Qing period are a desirable target for serious collectors and museums. A good bottle has an extra quality over and above its exquisite beauty and value, which is touch. Snuff bottles were made to be held and so, as a rule, they have a pleasant tactile quality.

Snuff bottle 1. Height : 7.5cm

The base of the bottle.

Snuff bottle 2. Height : 6.5cm

The base of the bottle.