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Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1780-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • 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 squarish flattened flask form curving inwards at the shoulder and base with a flat-topped stopper.
It is made of chalcedony, honey coloured with orange skin and inclusions, with decoration carved in relief. The stopper is of amethyst of uneven colour
The carved relief depicts a cock and cockscomb plant with magic fungus growing from a rock.
The foot has an angular indentation underneath.
The skin is used for the carving of the cock and plant, and the most prominent inclusion determines the placing of the magic fungus. There is little background carving, and the reverse is left plain.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1780-1895 (made)




Height: 5.9 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

Cock (bird); Rock; Magic fungus; Cockscomb plant


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories


East Asia Collection

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