Snuff Bottle

1750-1895 (made)
Snuff Bottle thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Snuff Bottle
  • Stopper
Brief Description
Scu, China, carving, chalcedony



Scu, China, carving, chalcedony
Physical Description
The bottle is an oval flattened flask form with a dome-shaped stopper.

It is made of chalcedony, grey with patches of tawny yellow and very small dark brown inclusions, with decoration carved in relief. The stopper is made of glass coloured green to imitate jade, set in metal.

The carved decoration depicts a grasshopper on a leaf. On the reverse there is a monkey and a bee.

The high gently faceted foot has a high indentation underneath.

The body of the grasshopper is formed by a patch of tawny yellow in the stone, and the eyes of the monkey by the small dark brown inclusions; the monkey is much smaller than the grasshopper. A monkey, hou, and a bee, feng, together form a visual pun meaning 'preferment to noble rank'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 5.9cm
Style
Credit line
Salting Bequest
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic Reference
White, Helen. Snuff Bottles from China. London: Bamboo Publishing Ltd in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992. 291p., ill. ISBN 1870076109.
Collection
Accession Number
C.1847&A-1910

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record createdJuly 23, 1998
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