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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 green glass 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 with no stopper.
It is made of glass, opaque white, with overlay of green glass carved in relief.
The decoration depicts a fish and a bubble above the waves, with lotus plants.
The low foot is formed by overlay, with 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, thus conveying a message of hope for prosperity in the coming years.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

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


Height: 5.9 cm

Descriptive line

Cer, China, Qing, GLASS, OVERLAY

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

Bubbles; Catfish; Plants; Lotus; Waves; Fish


ELISE; Glass; Containers; Personal accessories


East Asia Collection

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