The World in a Bottle in the World

26 only the name Li as a seal ( fig. 38 , top row); and some bear only the name Weizhi 維之 as a seal ( fig. 38 , second, third, and fourth rows). Working on and off over the past year on the problem of identifying Yunting and Weizhi, we at first assumed they were the same person, and indeed we have encountered more than one source that makes exactly that assertion. Our research really started with two letters by Zheng Guanying 鄭觀應 (1842–1922), a noted reformer and (for a time) Yangzhou salt merchant, and from the titles these letters are given in Zheng ’ s collected works, it appears that Yunting was the courtesy name of Li Weizhi: Fu Yangzhou xiezhen gongsuo Li Yunting Weizhi shu 覆揚 州協賑公所李韵亭維之書 (In reply to a letter from Li Yunting Weizhi of the Yangzhou relief office). 29 Nothing in the contents of the letters stands out to indicate that they are directed to two people. This supposed person was apparently a philanthropist who involved himself in fundraising for famine and disaster relief. Li Yunting or Weizhi also appear in the records as a salt merchant and an investor. In any case, he was not a glassmaker, surely, for it is difficult to imagine glassmaking as an amateur pursuit for a busy businessman. This led us to realize that when an inscription on a snuff bottle states that so- and-so “ made ” zuo the bottle, it probably means that they caused it to be made. The rare vase in the Shorenstein Collection (one of only two glass-overlay vases from the Yangzhou school) is one example ( fig. 39 ). This vase is inscribed Dingchou nian Li shi zuo 丁丑年李氏 作 (Made for Mr. Li in the dingchou year), followed by the seal Li. The use of the character zuo 作 “ to make ” here led us to believe in the past that Li was the maker of this vase, but it is surely best to interpret the word causatively: Mr. Li had it made ; hence, in our translation, it was made for him. The name Weizhi appears on the foot of the vessel in the form Weizhi zhenwan 維之 珍玩 (For the treasured enjoyment of Weizhi), making it clear that whoever made the vase, Weizhi was the intended owner. This was a major step forward in our understanding of the “ Li Yunting ” bottles. The next breakthrough in our research was the realization that Li Weizhi and Li Yunting were not the same person. They were brothers. Their “ real ” names were Li Peizhen 李培楨 and Li Peisong 李培 松 , respectively. They were natives of Dantu 丹徒 , or Zhenjiang 鎮江 , on the south side of the Yangzi and, like many Dantu natives, they ended up in Yangzhou as that city rebuilt itself in the decades after the Taiping Rebellion. They moved to Yangzhou around 1870 and purchased the famous Ge yuan 个園 , but it appears that around the turn of the century they began selling or mortgaging parts of the grounds and some of the buildings. The most authoritative account with regard to the Yangzhou garden comes from a recent book on the “ Salt merchant architecture ” of Yangzhou by Ma Hengbao 馬恒寶 . 30 Based on a 1929 real estate contract that specifies the previous deeds and contracts that are to be kept as part of the document, Ma Hengbao has been able to show that the Ge yuan passed from the descendants of the earliest known owner, Huang Zhiyun 黃至筠 (d. 1838, a Shanxi merchant from Datong), to Li Yunting 李韵亭 and Li Weizhi 李蔚之 , both natives of Dantu. (The homophone error in writing Li Weizhi ’ s name is somewhat surprising because wèi 蔚 and wéi 維 are different tones, but in Mandarin dialects along the Yangzi Fig. 38. Other samples of Li Yunting snuff bottes.