Height: 2 5/8 inches, 6.7 cm (without stopper)

Glass ‘Zhongkui’ snuff bottle

China, Qing dynasty, Gu Yue Xuan mark, 18th century

A glass snuff bottle of oval form, standing on an oval foot and surmounted by a cylindrical neck. The exterior is painted in delicate enamels with a continuous scene, one side showing Zhongkui standing with his sword looking up at a lady in a window, possibly his sister. The reverse side shows an attendant with a horse at an open fence.The flat base is inscribed in iron-red with a three-character mark Gu Yue Xuan. The opaque glass is milky white. Glass stopper.

The bottle depicts the legendary Zhong Kui, the ‘demon queller’, who is regarded as a protective figure. Enamelled glass snuff bottles bearing this subject are very rare, particularly among Gu Yue Xuan snuff bottles.

The mark Gu Yue Xuan, literally ‘Ancient Moon Pavilion’ refers to the imperial enamelled glass studio situated within the Jin Yuan garden, not far from the Yuanming Yuan. Active from 1767 until prior to 1810, this workshop produced refined enamels recognisable by their outstanding degree of detail. In the early phase, the Qianlong reign mark would be combined with that of the workshop, but increasingly Gu Yue Xuan as brand alone referred to its imperial status.[1]

  1. Moss, H. et al., A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles: The Mary and George Bloch Collection,Vol. 6 part 1,Arts of the Fire, Hong Kong 2008, p. 29