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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1880 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Transparent glass with overlay of red glass partly 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 an elongated flattened pear form and is made of transparent glass with overlay of red glass partly carved in relief.
The two-part dome-shaped stopper.is made of coral and turquoise-coloured stone or glass.
The decoration depicts eight flower sprays, including lotus, pink, poppy and orchid, separately arranged, four on each side.
The high splayed foot is formed by the overlay with high indentation underneath.
This quartered arrangement of the decoration is unusual amongst the red overlay bottles. The carving is fairly crude. The coral dome of the stopper is formed from half a coral bead. Despite the glass being of clearer transparency, this bottle is comparable with 438-1880, which was certainly made before 1880, so I have given the same dating parameters.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1880 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Transparent glass with overlay of red glass partly carved in relief


Height: 7.8 cm

Descriptive line

Transparent glass snuff bottle and stopper with overlay of red glass partly carved in relief, China, 1750-1880

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

Lotus; Flowers (plants)


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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