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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Transparent glass, with overlay of red glass carved 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 with no stopper.
It is made of glass, transparent, densely mottled with white flecks, with overlay of red glass carved in relief.
The decoration depicts a catfish and lotus with a lotus plant on the reverse.
The straight foot is formed by overlay, with angular indentation underneath.
The word for fish, yu, is a pun on the word for overflowing abundance, the word for catfish, nian, a pun on the word for year, and the word for lotus, lian, a pun on the word for continuous or successive. The message expresses a hope for prosperity for many years to come.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Transparent glass, with overlay of red glass carved in relief


Height: 4.9 cm

Descriptive line

Glass snuff bottle, transparent with overlay of red glass carved in relief, China, ca.19th century

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

Catfish; Plants; Lotus; Fish


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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