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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved agate with a stopper of coloured glass

  • 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 an oblong flattened flask form curving inwards slightly at the base and with shoulders sloping up into a short wide cylindrical neck. It has a flat-topped stopper.
It is made of agate, with markings of white, grey, yellowish brown and pinkish red. The stopper is of translucent lime-green coloured glass.
It has a large flat oval base with no foot.
The decorative effect of the bottle lies solely in the natural markings of the stone.
The oblong shape suggests a nineteenth-century date.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1800-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved agate with a stopper of coloured glass


Height: 6.2 cm

Descriptive line

Scu, China, carving, agate

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.


Agate; Glass




ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories


East Asia Collection

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