Qing powder flask
Dimensions

30.3 x 6.3 x 13.2 cm

Weight

365 grams

Materials

Wood, lacquer, gold

Origin

Southern China

Dating

19th century

Provenance

A Scandinavian private collection

Price €3000, -

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Description

A very good powder flask of the Qing dynasty. This larger flask wold be used to refill the main charge of a matchlock musket. A separate, smaller flask would hold the priming powder.

It is made of lacquered wood, but shaped like a horn traditionally used for this purpose. It is lacquered with vermillion lacquer. One side panel is elaborately carved with a classical warrior scene, showing in the center a horseman with swords trampling an opponent. Behind this scene is a panel with interlocking swastika carvings, painted green.

On top of the flask are two lion, they serve as loops to hold the string that suspended the flask from a belt.

The stop is a dragon carp, after a legend of a carp that passed through the dragon gate and became a dragon; a story that symbolizes perseverance. Gunpower can still be smelled.

One of the best Chinese powder flasks I have seen on the market.

 

Dating/attribution

This style of carving is attributable to artisans working in Southern China, in a style that was also popular among the Straights Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia. Southern China was quite early in the adoption of modern firearms through maritime smuggling and trade networks. This expensive flask must have been made before the upper class had such access, probably around the early to mid-19th century.

 

Provenance

From a Scandinavian private collection. A paper label with remains of a wax seal suggests it was once purchased from the Friendship Store in Beijing. These Friendship Stores were state-run stores that sold exclusively to foreigners, accepting only foreign exchange certificates. They sold Western imported goods as well as Chinese art, mainly from the 1950s-1990s.

Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask
Fine Southern Chinese gunpowder flask

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I might be interested in buying it.

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