Skip to ContentMaxPoint Pixel
Loading Events


Butterflies on Chinese Art with a Special Focus on Chinese Snuff Bottles

  • This event has passed.




Butterflies on Chinese Art with a Special Focus on Chinese Snuff Bottles

Event Navigation

Thursday, September 30
1:00–2:00 p.m. PT
Speaker: Clare Chu, Director and Secretary, International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society


Butterflies are rich in biological diversity; there are over 1,300 species in China today and many active societies of lepidopterists studying them. This lecture looks at the materials that are used to depict butterflies such as porcelain, amber, and lacquerware, and analyzes the symbolism inherent in the decoration of these pieces. It also examines the “dreaming” story from the philosopher Zhuangzi, who wrote one of the foundational texts of Chinese literature and philosophy, also entitled Zhuangzi. Later interpretations of dreams in the Chinese literary tradition drew on this strange and radical story in which Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly but awoke wondering if he was a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi.

Clare Chu has worked in the field of Chinese snuff bottles for almost forty years, and is the secretary and a director of the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society. This year, Chu became the editor of the Society’s Journal. Chu continues to work as a scholar-dealer, focusing on the development of collections with their owners, and as a lecturer and teacher. Chu has curated a number of museum exhibitions of snuff bottles: one in 2016 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and another in 2018 at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. She is currently curating an exhibition of over 750 bottles to be held in late October at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Taipei, for which she has written three fully illustrated catalogues. The exhibition is entitled A Courtly Gathering of Qing Treasures: Chinese Snuff Bottles from Taiwanese Collections. Chu is also a published poet, who often draws upon her knowledge of Asian art for inspiration.


Please reserve your spot by clicking on this link. All participants will be sent the Zoom link and instructions via email once you secure your place. Space is limited.

Reserve my spot!


Sponsored by the Asian Arts Council.


Featured: Ma Shaoxuan, Inside-Painted Crystal “Butterflies” Snuff Bottle, 1895. The Mary and George Bloch Collection.


September 30, 2021
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Categories:

Copyright © 2024 The San Diego Museum of Art | Website by Raindrop Raindrop Marketing Logo