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Snuff bottle

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1796-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Porcelain, with decoration in underglaze blue

  • Credit Line:

    W. G. Gulland Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 14, shelf 7

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 cylindrical form with a very short flared neck and no stopper.
It is made of porcelain, with decoration in underglaze blue.
The decoration depicts two dragons, with clouds and waves, chasing a flaming pearl.
The receding foot, unlglazed at the edge, has a curved indentation underneath containing a mark of a dragon in underglaze blue.
The wide flat neck surface suggests a purpose-made snuff bottle.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1796-1900 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Porcelain, with decoration in underglaze blue

Marks and inscriptions



Height: 7.9 cm

Descriptive line

Chinese snuff bottle, 1796-1900, Qing dynasty; porcelain, with decoration in underglaze blue depicting dragons.

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.




Glazing (coating)

Subjects depicted

Pearl; Clouds; Wave; Dragon; Flame


ELISE; Containers; Personal accessories; Ceramics


East Asia Collection

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