This glass snuff bottle with a silver spoon and a lid of turquoise and silver was painted in Boshan, Shandong Province, China. Boshan artist Bi Rongjiu learned the technique of painting on the inside of bottles in Beijing and is known for developing the technique of grinding the interiors with diamond sand to improve paint’s adherence to the surface. Interestingly, this bottle bears the signature of Bi Rongjiu’s father Yu Ting and may predate his son’s innovation. The landscape on the front of the bottle is complemented by the poem on the back, roughly translated as: “the fairy dew and shiny pearl has just became luminous, the breeze of pine and the reflection of moon in water compete (with each other) for their tranquil beauty.”*
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Tompkins donated this bottle to the Museum in 1954, along with several other Chinese and Tibetan objects. The Tompkins lived in Suifu, in Sichuan Province, from 1902 to 1944. Dr. Tompkins was a graduate of the U-M Medical School and worked in the local hospital, while his wife taught kindergarten.
*Thanks to Professor Li Min of UCLA for help in identifying this object and translating the text.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.