An Overview of Qing Glass

27 Fig. 103. Faceted clear blue glass with a Tongzhi reign mark. Fig. 104. Turquoise-blue glass carved on each side with an identical design of a tied bunch of lotus stems, the narrow sides each with an inscription and the base, Guangxu period. Bloch Collection. between 1861 and 1873, it is of the traditional faceted form, although more simply achieved and not as crisp or well made as the eighteenth- century counterparts we have looked at, and the mark is of typical, nineteenth-century style, fairly crudely incised with a spinning wheel. One can see why the Xianfeng Emperor had become exasperated by the standards of calligraphy at the glassworks. A similarly poorly written reign mark, but from the following Guangxu period, however, accompanies one of the great masterpieces of recognizable Imperial glass from the last phase of Qing production ( fig. 104 ). This bottle serves as a lesson in humility in approaching Qing glass. Without its Guangxu mark, I would have dated it to at least a century earlier and expected no dissent. So little of this quality of glass carving is dated to the late-nineteenth Autumn Shade] in which he wrote: “ The use of snuff bottles arose with the present dynasty and at first this custom was limited to the Eight Banners and to the official class, but in recent times no small tradesman or even lowly shepherd boy would be without one. ” He lists various types of bottles, and continues: “ The most popular type is cloudy glass with a red overlay ( taohong ) and those of this type with a “ lotus root powder ” ground are thought to be the best. Bottles in which snuff can be kept for a long time without its drying out are called “ old overlays ” ( laopi ) and these are valued very greatly. ” 53 The dire state of Imperial glassmaking by the mid century is suggested by the admonition of the Xianfeng Emperor in 1858 to the glassworks that they make only simple, undecorated wares. “ The marks, ” he adds, “ must be clearly rendered. ” 54 Figure 103 is Imperial and bears a Tongzhi reign mark. Made at some time