This elegant snuff bottle depicts a flowering prunus and the fungus (lingzhi) of immortality. The sacred fungus of immortality, was considered by the Daoist mystics as the food of the Immortals (xian). Symbol of longevity, since, when dry, it becomes extremely long lasting. This strange plant looks like a tree with a knobby trunk and lobed, flat leaves but, is a fungus. Its Latin name has been identified as Polyporus lucidus. It is used extensively in Chinese medicine. It was believed that lingzhi funguses grew in the abodes of the Immortals, the Three Islands of the Blest, and that whoever ate the sacred fungus attained immortality. Lingzhi funguses or decorative patterns or shapes possibly derived from them (i.e. clouds and ruyi scepters) are quite common in Chinese art.
This snuff bottle is well hollowed and the ovoid shape and high degree of polish is very satisfying. The stopper is carnelian agate. In our opinion, the subject matter, elegant workmanship and fine material suggest a 1780-1840 date for this snuff bottle.
Ex Ashkenazie & Co. Collection, 1994
Ex Richards Collection, California
Reference number 4129
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