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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Green glass, with carved decoration in relief

  • 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 a rounded flattened flask form without a stopper.
It is made of glass, coloured dark green to imitate jade, with relief decoration.
The decoration depicts catfish amid waves spouting a pavilion, and a bat. On the reverse is a crane carrying a rod in its mouth flying over a pavilion on waves, and a bat.
The bottle does not have a separate foot but there is an indentation underneath.
The monochrome carved glass suggests a relatively early date. The fish spouting a pavilion may represent shen shi ,'Sea-monster market', the Chinese title of which closely resembles sheng shi, meaning success (Eberhard, p. 227).

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Green glass, with carved decoration in relief


Height: 5.5 cm

Descriptive line

Snuff bottle, glass coloured green with carved decoration in relief, 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

Crane (bird); Catfish; Bat (animal); Pavilions (garden structures)


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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