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Snuff bottle

Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1895 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Amygdaloidal lava, with a stopper of azurite, malachite and pearl

  • 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 flattened flask form, broader at the shoulders than at the base, with a slightly splayed cylindrical neck. It has a dome-shaped stopper with a finial.
The bottle is made of amygdaloidal lava, black with white, grey, green and salmon pink inclusions; the stopper of azurite, malachite and a pearl.
The foot is angular with an elliptical indentation underneath.
The decorative appeal lies in the natural markings of the stone.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1850-1895 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Amygdaloidal lava, with a stopper of azurite, malachite and pearl


Height: 6.5 cm bottle only

Descriptive line

Chinese snuff bottle, amygdaloidal lava, azurite, malachite and pearl, flattened flask form, Qing Dynasty; 1850-1895.

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.


Azurite; Pearl; Malachite (mineral); Lava


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories


East Asia Collection

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