The World in a Bottle in the World

12 Figure 17 features a landscape with a poem by an unknown author on one side and the famous On the Pavilion of Prince Teng by Wang Bo 王勃 (649–676) on the other. One of his larger pieces is shown in figure 18 . It is a paper- or scroll-weight with, on one side, an illustration of the “ Elegant Gathering in the Western Garden, ” featuring the literary giant Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037–1101) with his associates and supporters—long a favorite topic for painters (though scholars have shown that some of the supposed participants were actually elsewhere at the time the gathering is said to have taken place). Returning now to non- professional engravers, we find them intriguingly represented by the bottle in figure 19 , signed Qiansheng Ding Jun 潛生丁 竣 (Ding Jun alias Qiansheng). The cyclical date, dinghai 丁亥 , corresponds to 1887. This bottle is discussed in Treasury 5 (no. 1059), but when that volume was written, the authors did not realize that this Ding Jun is the Tiansheng 田生 who appears on a soapstone bottle in Treasury 3 , no. 380 (lot 43 in Bonham ’ s, Hong Kong, November 24, 2010). Ding Jun was a person of some importance in military and civil spheres, and we presented several interesting facets of his life in our commentary on lot 43, which may be found on He served in the Xiang Army under Zeng Guofan 曾國藩 (1811–1870) and Peng Yulin 彭玉麟 (1816–1890) and as a provincial surveillance commissioner ( ancha shi 按察使 ) in both Zhejiang and Anhui; he was also expert at painting horses. As just noted, Ding Jun used the names Tiansheng and Qiansheng, but it is possible that he also used Diansheng 滇生 . For the first name we have the authority of the important scholar and calligrapher Weng Tonghe 翁同龢 (1830–1904), who records in notes on a visit from Ding Jun on May 4, 1896, that Tiansheng was his hao . The zi Qiansheng is associated with Ding Jun in a compilation of painters by Li Fang 李放 (his preface is dated 1923) and in the preface or headnote to Parallel Pillar Inscriptions Written in Mourning for Provincial Surveillance Commissioner Ding Qiansheng 丁潛生 廉訪挽聯 by Yu Yue 俞樾 (1821–1906). As for the name Diansheng, it is given in a note to an entry in information that was compiled by Xu Lingxiao 徐凌霄 and Xu Yishi 徐一士 (brothers) and appeared serially in a Tianjin newspaper much later, from 1929 to 1937; it would seem to have the least credibility. 13 In any case, there could not be a better example of an individual primarily devoted to military and civil service crossing over into the art of snuff-bottle decoration and affixing his name to Fig. 17. An ivory bottle. Fig. 18. A paper- or scroll-weight by Wang Bo.