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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Opaque white glass with light brown glass overlay carved in relief

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 30

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 made of opaque white glass, with overlay of light brown glass, carved in relief.
The dome-shaped two-part stopper is made of jade and glass coloured to imitate rose quartz.
The carved relief depicts two men, one of them perhaps a juggler, and a woman holding a tall rod. On the reverse, the same three figures beneath a pine tree; the pine tree extends from rocks on one shoulder; on the other shoulder are rocks, clouds and the sun, which bears the character ri, 'sun'.
There is no separate foot but the bottle is cradled by the brown glass overlay.
The colour of the glass overlay is unusual.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Opaque white glass with light brown glass overlay carved in relief


Height: 5.9 cm

Descriptive line

Snuff bottle, opaque white glass with light brown glass overlay carved in relief, China, 1750-1895

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.


Glass; Jade



Subjects depicted

Figures (representations); Women; Trees; Acrobats; Men


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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