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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1750-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • 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, curving gently to a narrow base; the neck is long in relation to the size of the bottle. It has a two-part dome-shaped stopper.
It is made of chalcedony, mushroom coloured with dark brown inclusions, with decoration carved in very low relief. The stopper of turquoise and amethyst.
The carved relief depicts a catfish. On the reverse is plain except where the craftsman has used dark brown inclusions to depict lotus and a bubble.
The bottle has a flat oval base and no foot.
The inclusions determine the placing of the carved decoration.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1750-1895 (made)




Height: 5.7 cm

Descriptive line

Scu, China, carving, chalcedony

Scu, China, carving, chalcedony

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; Lotus


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories


East Asia Collection

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