A blue and white snuff bottle
Daoguang mark and period (1821-1850)
The bottle of compressed form with short cylindrical neck is painted with a continuous scene of sixteen boys including Si Maguang rescuing a boy trapped in a water jar. The concave base is inscribed with a four-character reign mark. The stopper is made of coral with stained ivory collar.
5 cm high without stopper
A Dutch private collection
This humorously painted blue and white porcelain bottle shows the famous story of the scholar, statesman and poet Si Maguang (1019-1086). It depicts a scene of how the young Si Maguang once saved a playmate who had fallen into an enormous vat full of water. As the other children ran away in panic to seek help, Sima Guang calmly picked up a rock and smashed a hole in the pot. The water leaked out, and his friend was saved from drowning. The scene is known on several types of Chinese ceramics, and also on Japanese Kakiemon ware, where Sima is called Shiba Onko. The scene was later copied by the Meissen and Chelsea porcelain factories, where it is called ‘Hob-in-the-Well’.
Interestingly, the scene on this bottle does not stand on its own, but is part of a continuous scene showing a total of sixteen boys, the other side with children in a procession holding lanterns, vases, lotus and a kite, and one lighting fireworks.