The Infulence of Tang Ying

4 orders to be placed for porcelain bottles from Jingdezhen. A wide variety of materials could be produced at the palace workshops or elsewhere in Beijing, and perhaps the most likely reason for the slow start for porcelain was that two of the court arts, painted enamels on metal and on glass, provided an appearance on a snuff bottle that was similar to enameled porcelain. Moreover, neither of the two stellar qualities of porcelain as a material— its translucence and its resonance— applied to the snuff bottle ’ s form. In the last two decades of his reign, the Kangxi emperor ordered porcelain blanks of dishes, bowls and vases sent from Jingdezhen to be enameled by court artists at the palace workshops, but so far there is no evidence of any blank porcelain snuff bottles being ordered—not then nor at any other time during the Qing dynasty. There is very little textual or material evidence of porcelain bottle manufacture prior to the early Qianlong period and the directorship of Tang Ying. At present there is also no evidence whatsoever to support Kangxi production of snuff bottles at Jingdezhen, and I have never seen a porcelain snuff bottle, made as such, that is convincingly that early. The occasional miniature vase of the type mass-produced for export to Europe during the Kangxi period might be pressed into service by later collectors if outfitted with a stopper and spoon, but as a rule their obviously over-long necks and unsuitably flared inner necks set them apart and, in any case, as export wares, they would not have been inscribed with the reign mark. Bottles identified as Kangxi in some T he sixth volume of A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles deals with the arts of the fire: ceramics and enamels. 1 Six years in the making, it has prompted me to look into every aspect of these arts and today I would like to expand on just one area discussed in the book: the crucial influence of Tang Ying on the production of porcelain snuff bottles for the court. Tang, it seems, was responsible for the earliest substantial body of ceramic snuff bottles produced at the Jingdezhen imperial kilns. Snuffing in China appears to have first become popular at court in the second half of the seventeenth century. From then, for more than a century, the court was the main engine driving the evolution of snuff bottles. The Kangxi emperor is known to have smoked tobacco when a child, although there is no record of him having snuffed it. 2 It seems likely, therefore, that at some time after his accession to the throne, at the age of nine in 1662, he switched from smoking to snuffing tobacco, thus promoting the habit. By the end of the reign in 1722, snuff-taking was widespread at, and around, the court at Beijing. It was not, apparently, until the Qianlong period, and probably the second half, that the habit began to attain significant nationwide popularity. Even then it apparently remained far more popular among Manchus, Mongols and northern Chinese than among southern Chinese. 3 It also seems initially to have been an upper-class habit although it had spread to the common folk in Beijing by the end of the Kangxi reign. This prompted the elite to separate itself from the herd by evolving complex connoisseurship of snuff and encouraging the creation of precious and esoteric containers for it which were financially or aesthetically beyond the common snuff-taker. Far from the direct influence of the court, in southern and central China, smoking continued to be a popular alternative to snuffing throughout the Qing dynasty. One puzzle about the early production of snuff bottles is why it appears to have taken so long for The Influence of Tang Ying on the Production of Imperial Porcelain Snuff Bottles Hugh Moss Fig. 1. Yongzheng-marked porcelain snuff bottle.