The World in a Bottle in the World

14 Coconut shell attracted a number of artists during the nineteenth century as an ideal “ canvas ” for artists using the iron- brush. This art form may have begun in the earlier part of the century, but it flourished after the Taiping Rebellion. A number of scholars were directly involved, and their works provide us with one of the most exciting of the late-Qing trends. A detailed study of the type is forthcoming, but for now we simply illustrate it here with a few examples. They are proving to be one of the most rewarding areas of research into late-Qing scholarly/artistic input in the snuff bottle world. An impressive representative of the genre was in the Pamela Friedman Collection ( fig. 21 ) 16 . It is of unusually complex form, made up of multiple segments (ten in this case) to create a traditional bottle shape, rather than being essentially two convex panels joined at the edges. It is decorated, as is so often the case, with a copy of an ancient bronze inscription Shi zuo baoli 師作寳鬲 (Shi made this precious li tripod), accompanied by a regular-script rumination upon the meaning of the ancient inscription: “ In ancient times ‘ shi ’ was an official title; does its use in this inscription refer to a surname or a title? ” followed by two seals of the artist, one undeciphered, the other Zihe 子和 . On the other main side is a copy of another bronze inscription: yizisun ji 宜子孫吉 (Suitable to bring good fortune to generations of descendants), also accompanied by an engraved inscription in regular script that translates as: “ the inscription on a dragon-and-tiger hinge lamp says Suitable to bring good fortune to generations of descendants , ” followed by the date, Jiaxu qiuri 甲戌秋日 (Autumn day of the jiaxu year) and the signature Zihe 子和 , with one seal of the artist, Shuixian 水仙 (Water fairy, or narcissus). The dragon-and-tiger lamp was an oval lamp decorated with dragon and tiger designs and fitted with a cover in two parts, one of which Fig. 21. Friedman Collection. Fig. 22. A coconut-shell segment bottle.