A snowflake overlay ruby-red glass snuff bottle

19th century

the pear-shaped bottle carved through the snowflake layer to the ruby-red ground on one side with a figure riding a donkey followed by an attendant carrying a prunus branch, the reverse with three figures standing near a hut, the narrow sides decorated with ring handles, rose quartz stopper

height 5 cm without stopper

from a Dutch private collection acquired prior to the 1980’s

Snuff bottles with an outer layer of ‘snowflake’ are unusual, and on this bottle the neck and lower sides are left completely covered by the snowflake layer to simulate a snowy landscape. Remarkable are the finely detailed faces of the figures. A closely related bottle is illustrated by H. Hui in ‘An Addicted Dedication, Chinese Snuff Bottles, Christopher Sin’s Collection’, Vol. I, Hong Kong, 2013, pl. 129.

The decoration on this bottle most probably represents two winter scenes from the episode ‘Three Visits to the Thatched Cottage’ from the novel ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, written by Luo Guanzhong in the fourteenth century.

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