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Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, with painted decoration in underglaze blue

  • Credit Line:

    W. G. Gulland Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

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 baluster form with no stopper.
It is made of porcelain, with decoration in underglaze blue.
The decoration consists of five shou ('long life') characters bordered by bands of cloud scrolls. There are five bats on the shoulder and cloud scrolls around the neck.
The receding foot, unglazed at the edge, has a curved glazed indentation underneath containing the mark of two ruyi sceptres tied with a ribbon.
It is possibly a small vase or a bottle converted for use as a snuff bottle.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1850-1900 (made)


Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, with painted decoration in underglaze blue

Marks and inscriptions

two ruyi sceptres tied with a ribbon


Height: 6.2 cm

Descriptive line

Chinese snuff bottle, 1850-1900, Qing dynasty; porcelain, with painted decoration depicting five shou characters.

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.


Porcelain; Cobalt oxide


Painting (image-making); Glazing (coating)

Subjects depicted

Cloud scrolls; Bat (animal)


Containers; Personal accessories; Ceramics

Collection code


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