The World in a Bottle in the World

23 Fig. 30. Two snuff bottles made copying Xiaomei. Fig. 33. Snuff bottle made for Wang Su. formalization of the character si 巳 differs from several others from that year but it seems the only plausible interpretation of the date, given the limited number of options that occur with the initial xin 辛 . It seems a fairly obvious conclusion that the dated Wang Su- related bottles are more likely to be from 1821 and 1836, when he was alive, particularly since one of them uses the character zuo 作 (made by [or for]), rather than 1881 and 1896, after his death. Two instances where Xiaomei is given as the model for the copier may or may not be from his lifetime; both are inscribed Fang Xiaomei zuo 仿小某作 (Made copying Xiaomei; fig. 30 ). For the sake of completeness, let us just note that there are four more bottles signed Xiaomei zuo 小某作 (Made by [or for] Xiaomei; fig. 31 ) and four with just a seal, Xiaomei 小某 (two of them with variants in the formalization of the seal script; fig. 32 ). Wang Su was plausibly the patron for whom these bottles were made, rather than a painter who just happened to pick up the skill of carving glass-overlay bottles in his spare time. There is one case in which the inscription states clearly that the bottle was made for him ( fig. 33 ): following an inscription are two seals, intended to be read together, Xiaomei 小某 and Wan 玩 . Following general practice with such dedications, we can interpret this only as meaning “ For the enjoyment of Xiaomei. ” There is a glass-overlay bottle in the Bloch Collection (no. 1045) on which a certain Jifang 寄舫 states that he commissioned the worker Sun Shihua 孫世華 to make Fig. 29. A Xiaomei-signed snuff bottle. Fig. 31. Another four samples of the Xiaomei-signed snuff bottles. Fig. 32. Four more Xiaomei signed snuff bottles.