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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 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, the shoulders sloping up to a cylindrical neck. The neck-hole is wide in relation to the total width of the neck and there is no stopper.
It is made of glass, opaque white, with overlay of red glass carved in relief.
The decoration depicts a bat with a formal ruyi sceptre suspended from its mouth by a ribbon. On the reverse there is a bat with a ruyi sceptre closely resembling the stalk of a magic fungus suspended form its mouth by a ribbon. On each shoulder there is a plant with a simple four-petalled flower.
The foot is formed by overlay, with high angular indentation underneath.
An interesting example of the ruyi sceptre depicted in both emblematic and organic forms.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Opaque white glass, with overlay of red glass carved in relief


Height: 5.3 cm

Descriptive line

Glass snuff bottle, opaque white, 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

Plant; Sceptre; Fungus; Bat (animal); Ribbon; Flower


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Glass


East Asia Collection

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