Celestial Dragon Ivory Pipe Mouthpiece

c. 1900
W: 1.0" D: 1.5" H: 2.5"
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This intricate ivory carving originated as the mouthpiece to a 19th-century Chinese tobacco pipe. Widely popular throughout the Qing dynasty, smoking tobacco provided an opportunity to gather and socialize. Consequently, a material culture soon emerged, wherein scholars and learned men could display their taste and refinement through beautifully crafted pipes and accessories.

This delicate example is finely carved from a solid piece of ivory and decorated in high relief with a sinuous dragon winding around the base. Surrounded by swirling clouds, the scaly dragon encircles the mouthpiece in pursuit of the flaming pearl, a scene conveying the pursuit of power, ambition and imperial rank. Wonderfully preserved, the petite mouthpiece lives on as a precious keepsake from a bygone era.

From the collection of Frances and Gary Comer.

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