An Overview of Qing Glass

12 1750–1799 As far as Imperial wares are concerned the end of the Qianlong period is in 1799 when the Emperor died, rather than 1795 when he abdicated. The use of his reign name was continued as a courtesy on many courtly wares until his death. The Jiaqing Emperor may have wielded the trappings of power, but his father continued to wield the power until his death. Again, reference to the archives of the Zaobanchu is informative. In 1751 (sixth month, twenty-fourth day) we see further evidence of the role snuff bottles played as gifts at court, with thirty glass snuff bottles delivered to be presented as prizes during the hunt. The Qianlong Emperor frequently hunted at his palace in Jehe (Jehol), far to the north of Beijing, and snuff bottles were distributed as prizes to successful hunters. 35 In 1754 (first month, thirtieth day) a further one hundred glass snuff bottles were ordered for the same purpose. 36 Throughout the reign there are many other references to snuff bottles, but by the mid-Qianlong period the range of possible glass colors and combinations was about as broad as it was going to get, and to learn that a blue on green overlay bottle existed is less exciting than it would have been from the Yongzheng period. The final record of interest to us at this point is from the last year of the Emperor ’ s life, in 1799, when a list of workers active in the glasshouse, apart from the glass blowers from Boshan, includes thirty-four other artisans among whom are jade workers (to carve and polish the glass), “ throwers, ” builders, scrapers, carpenters, “ filers ” and sula -attendants. Throwers, scrapers and filers all worked with the traditional lapidary tools to finish the glass products (grinding and polishing). Sula -attendants were the odd-job men who did whatever else was required. 37 Clearly the Imperial glassworks were still functioning at a high level at the time, although where they were located is another matter. In early 1728, a branch glassworks had been set up at the Yuanmingyuan, the Yongzheng Emperor ’ s private country residence to the northwest of Beijing, which he preferred to the Forbidden City. 38 The country residence and other nearby gardens have become collectively known as the Summer Palace to Westerners. This glassworks was certainly still active for most of the Qianlong period, and may have continued in production until the destruction of the Summer Palace by the British and French in 1860, whereas there is some evidence that the Beijing Imperial glassworks was in decline in the late Qianlong period, and was derelict by 1829. 39 AN OVERVIEW OF QING GLASS SNUFF-BOTTLE PRODUCTION, PART II Hugh M. Moss Editor ’ s Note: This essay is an expanded version of a lecture presented to the Society in Houston in October 2001, by Hugh Moss, derived from the research undertaken for the fifth volume of the Bloch Collection (Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Vol. 5, Glass ). Part I appeared in the Journal , Spring 2004. pp. 13–27. Fig. 45. Crizzled clear glass with sapphire-blue sploshes, the side showing one small spot of opaque red glass, high on one shoulder, 1736–1770. Bloch Collection.

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