Carved-boxwood Snuff Bottle with Seals of “Zhizhi” and “Zheng Tong”

Yangzhou Museum

Yangzhou Museum

Passed down from earlier generations, this lidded boxwood snuff bottle with sloped shoulders, crafted by Zhu Zhizhi, a well-known wood carving artist in the late Qing dynasty, presenting a beautiful painting scroll of a leisurely gathering of elegant scholars against the background of pavilions, springs and mountains. The 12 elderly men are in various postures and expressions, either playing a zither or chess, fishing, or listening to the gurgling of springs. The statuette of “intoxicated Taibai” (the typical artistic image of the renowned Tang-dynasty poet Li Bai) served as the knob erecting on the lid. And a seal of “Zhizhi” can be found on where the neck meets the shoulders.
Though tiny in size, this piece shows a perfect combination of a series of techniques such as freestanding, openwork, deep and shallow carving, revealing the crafter’s masterful skills through the illustration of a complicated scene full of real-life landscape and vivid figures within a fingertip-sized area.
The tiny snuff spoon glued to the lid and hidden inside the bottle is a testimony to the incomparable carving skills of the miniature ivory-carving master Zheng Tong. The spoon features a beautiful lady in an elegant gesture, looking to the distance while standing beside the balustrade of a pavilion, beside which there is also an inscribed poem, composed of shallowly-carved characters in the size of fly feet.

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  • Title: Carved-boxwood Snuff Bottle with Seals of “Zhizhi” and “Zheng Tong”
  • Provenance: Yangzhou Museum
  • Physical Size: Overall height: 6.9 cm, opening diameter: 1.8 cm, bottom diameter: 1.8 cm, maximum width: 3.4 cm
  • Dynasty: Qing (1636 - 1912)


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