The World in a Bottle in the World

7 Retreat), followed by the seal facsimile Chenshi 陳氏 (Mister Chen). Since both are dated to the spring of 1816, one at the Elm Planter Immortal ’ s Retreat, it is perhaps likely that this was Chen ’ s home while he was still magistrate at Liyang and that he produced both at about the same time before leaving for Huai ’ an. A bamboo wrist rest also survives bearing Chen ’ s signature. 4 He provides an excellent example of literati involvement in the snuff bottle arts. Unfortunately, most literati participants in such handicrafts did not have as high a profile and are often difficult to identify. One of the most important snuff-bottle producers of the earlier nineteenth century signed his hornbill and amber bottles with the name Baishi 白石 (White stone; fig. 3 ). His known works are listed and analyzed in Treasury 7. 5 We are uncertain of his real identity, but he too may have been a scholar-artist who produced snuff bottles rather than a craftsman responding to educated patrons. With their subdued, painterly compositions and copies and transcriptions of texts drawn mostly from ancient bronzes or stone inscriptions, Baishi ’ s works fall comfortably into this late-Qing, literati snuff bottle tradition. Indeed, he was one of the main pioneers of this trend of transferring ancient scripts onto snuff bottles from the first half of the nineteenth century. There are dated bottles by him from 1836 and 1843, giving us a period of activity in the Daoguang era. A bottle dated to 1836 and formerly in the J & J Collection has an exact counterpart without any inscriptions in the Meriem Collection, suggesting he also produced carvings without inscriptions of any sort. Another facet of the new patronage was a growing impulse for craftsmen to sign their wares if they became sufficiently well known among the new patrons to warrant such personal identification. One of the most important and prominent of such craftsmen was Lu Dong 盧棟 of Yangzhou, who not only became a famous lacquerer and embellisher but also mixed in literati circles to some extent and was even recorded by them as a “ competent ” painter. Again, Moss, Graham and Tsang have dealt with him in detail in Treasury 7, as there are several examples of his lacquer snuff bottles in the Bloch Collection. His sole known painting is a typical literati-style subject of an idyllic country setting ( fig. 4 ). His snuff bottles are lacquered, in various colors and on different foundations ( fig. 5 ), but he was also famous for his inlaid and embellished wares for the scholar ’ s studio. He represents for the snuff bottle world those craftsmen who, since the sixteenth century, had begun to break down the ancient social barriers between humble craftsmen and their patrons. From the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries such master-craftsmen were very much the exception to the rule, but by the nineteenth century they had become far more common, culminating in the large numbers of signed snuff bottles of the later Qing, often identifying both artist/craftsman and patron/recipient. A significant trend in the early-nineteenth-century shift to craftsmen identifying themselves is found at Jingdezhen, where potters began to produce wares in recognizable individual styles and to sign them. One example is the porcelain decorator known only by his assumed name, Maochun 茂春 ( fig. 6 ). He is discussed in Treasury 6. 6 Fig. 5. Lu Dong ’ s snuff bottles. Fig. 6. Snuff bottles produced and signed by Maochun.