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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Blue glass with monochrome carving

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

Physical description

The bottle is an elongated oblong form, narrower towards the base, with the shoulders sloping up to a very short neck. It does not have a stopper.
It is made from blue glass with carved decoration depicting a catfish supporting a jade ring (bi) on clouds issuing from its mouth. There is a similar design on the reverse.
The foot is splayed with an angular indentation underneath.
The monochrome carving and the archaic bi decoration suggest a relatively early date.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Blue glass with monochrome carving


Height: 6.9 cm

Descriptive line

Blue glass snuff bottle with monochrome carving, China, 1750-1850

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

White, Helen. Snuff Bottles from China. London: Bamboo Publishing Ltd in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 291p., ill. ISBN 1870076109.





Subjects depicted

Clouds; Catfish


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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