Snuff Bottle thumbnail 1
Snuff Bottle thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

Snuff Bottle

1821-1850 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Snuff is powdered tobacco, usually blended with aromatic herbs or spices. The habit of snuff-taking spread to China from the West during the 17th century and became established in the 18th century. People generally carried snuff in a small bottle. By the 20th century these bottles had become collectors' items, owing to the great variety of materials and decorative techniques used in their production.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Porcelain painted in enamel colours, with gilding
Brief Description
Chinese snuff bottle, porcelain, depicting the Empress Wu Zetian, Qing, 1821-1850.
Physical Description
The bottle is a cylindrical form made of porcelain and painted in enamel colours, green, red, yellow, blue, brown, black and pink. There is gilding on the flat upper surface of the neck rim and no stopper.

The painted decoration depicts the Empress Wu Zetain from an illustration in Wu shuang pu, 'A Register of the Incomparable'. The inscription is a contracted version of her biography in that publication.

The body of the bottle slops towards a sharp foot with a high curved indentation underneath.
Dimensions
  • Height: 8.1cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Daoguang mark in red (seal; under foot; painted; enamel)
  • A contracted version of the biography of the Empress Wu Zetain taken from the biography of her in Wu shuang pu, 'A Register of the Incomparable'. (painted; enamel)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Mrs A. B. Woodcroft
Subject depicted
Literary Reference<font -i>Wu shuang pu</font>, <font -u>A Register of the Incomparable</font>. A publication of the Kangxi period (1662-1722)
Summary
Snuff is powdered tobacco, usually blended with aromatic herbs or spices. The habit of snuff-taking spread to China from the West during the 17th century and became established in the 18th century. People generally carried snuff in a small bottle. By the 20th century these bottles had become collectors' items, owing to the great variety of materials and decorative techniques used in their production.
Bibliographic Reference
White, Helen. Snuff Bottles from China. London: Bamboo Publishing Ltd in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 291p., ill. ISBN 1870076109.
Collection
Accession Number
412-1903

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record createdOctober 20, 1999
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