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Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1821-1850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Moulded porcelain with painted decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Boone Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics Study Galleries, Asia & Europe, room 137, case 14, shelf 8

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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 irregular pebble or gourd form with no stopper.
It is made from porcelain moulded in relief and painted in grey and green.
The decoration depicts two crabs amid rushes.
The bottle does not have a foot or a base and it does not stand upright.
The Chinese words for 'Two suits of armour (crabs) amid the rushes', Er jia chuan lu, are a pun on 'First place in the second class of the jinshi degree'.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1821-1850 (made)


unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Moulded porcelain with painted decoration


Height: 6.1 cm

Descriptive line

Chinese snuff bottle, moulded porcelain, painted decoration depicts two crabs, Qing Dynasty; 1821-1850.

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.

Production Note

The colours and the style of decoration strongly suggest a Daoguang dating.




Painting (image-making); Moulding

Subjects depicted

Crab (crustacean); Rush


Containers; Ceramics; Personal accessories

Collection code


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