Green Glass Overlay of a Leaping Carp Snuff Bottle


Height: 8.5cm

Circa 1820-1880


This green glass single overlay on opaque brown glass snuff bottle depicts a leaping carp. The carp is the emblem of perseverance because it constantly struggles against the current of a stream. The carp is a symbol of literary eminence and of passing examinations with distinction. The reverse side depicts a crab. The crab is also used to symbolize success in the imperial examination system. This is because the Chinese word for the crab’s shell (jia) has the additional meaning of “first” as in achieving the highest score in the examination to become a government official. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that this snuff bottle was most likely a gift to celebrate the passing of examinations by a scholar. In our opinion, the subject mater, material and workmanship suggest a 1820-1880 date for this outstanding snuff bottle.

With lapis stopper.

Ex Ashkenazie & Co. Collection, San Francisco, 1994


Reference number 4126




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