The parfumier is carved in the shape of a large bifid-tailed chilong dragon
crouching on its four legs with its head turned slightly to the left. It has a
hollowed out opened mouth and ears flanked by eight small chilong dragons
clambering all around the body. There is an perforation at the rear as well as
a covered opening at the belly to allow a single incense stick for the smoke to
emerge from the figure’s mouth and ears all the way down to two small chilong
dragons which also have their mouths perforated.
The nine-dragon motif is a symbol for the exclusive use for the emperor, which suggests the current example may have been produced for the imperial use.
The present example is stylistically similar to the nine-dragon brushrest in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and published in The Arts of China After 1620, 2007, p. 53, Catalogue No. 61. Another example from the Dr. Ip Lee collection is illustrated in Bamboo Carving of China, 1983, p. 114, Catalogue No. 57.
Collection of Soame Jenyns (1904-1976)
Spink & Son Ltd., London
Bamboo and Wood Carvings of China and the East, Spink & Son Ltd., London, 1979, Catalogue No. 154