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Lapis Lazuli Snuff Bottle in the Shape of a Butterfly Resting on a Melon

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: lapis lazuli,gilt copper spoon
Dimensions: height: 5.5 cm

This high-quality lapis lazuli stone was carved in the shape of a melon with another small melon resting on it along with scrolling vines and leaves. A little beetle rests on a leaf. Carved into a butterfly, the stopper has a gilt copper spoon attached. The lapis lazuli stone is deep blue, with only small grey spots. The design of melon and butterfly was widely adopted in the Qing dynasty, since butterfly (die) is a homonym for "a little melon". With its many seeds, a melon like a gourd was always associated with fecundity. Thus, the design of melon and butterfly carries an auspicious message of having many sons to continue the family line (Guadie mianmian).

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