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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, with overlay of red glass carved in relief.
The decoration depicts a catfish on its back amid waves, with a pavilion resting on a cloud of vapour issuing from the fish's mouth. On one shoulder, a crane flies towards the pavilion carrying a rod in its mouth. On the other shoulder, a bat. On the reverse there is a peach tree growing from a rock amid waves.
The high straight foot is formed by overlay, with an angular indentation underneath.
The peach tree and the depiction of 'One more counter for the pavilion by the sea' both carry the message of long life; the fish spouting a pavilion probably represents success.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Transparent glass, with overlay of red glass carved in relief


Height: 5.9 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

Waves (water); Clouds; Rock; Catfish; Bat (animal); Peach; Pavilions (garden structures); Crane (bird); Fish


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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