The World in a Bottle in the World

10 As an artist who worked commercially, it is quite possible that Hu Gongshou would have produced a one-off engraved bottle to order, perhaps for a friend, but he may also have made it for his own use. His skills as a painter are obvious even when constrained by the use of an iron brush, and his unusual and subtle use of different colors to fill his engraved lines is breathtakingly effective. Another of the master literati engravers of the late Qing was the artist who signed his work as Jueshan 爵山 and once with the additional name Jinyi 金彜 . (Note: this name appears only once in his inscriptions and is in such cursive script as to be open to other readings.) He produced a small series of glass snuff bottles ( fig. 12 ) and two ivory snuff dishes ( fig. 13 ). Snuff dishes, it is worth mentioning in passing, were a major fad among late-Qing snuff-takers and provide a great deal of information on participants and circles of snuff- taking friends in various parts of the country. We shall return to one of Jueshan ’ s two ivory dishes in part 2 of this article, since it is an important confirmation of one of our newer discoveries. On the green glass bottle, Jueshan writes that he both designed and carved the decoration, so we may assume he did the same for his other designs. On the ivory dish with the name we read for the time being as Jinyi, he also provided a studio name that is difficult to decipher but is probably Bu waimu zhai 不外慕齋 (Studio of no envy of externals– bu waimu was a phrase used in the Tang and Song Fig. 12. A series of glass snuff bottles by Jueshan. Fig. 13. Two ivory snuff dishes by Jueshan. Fig. 14. Top : The Wang Xizhi preface. Bottom : “ Inscription for a Humble Chamber ” by Liu Yuxi.