Antique Chinese snuff bottle (Green and blue)
Antique Chinese snuff bottle with spoon lid.
Blue with green lid and gold lettering.
Height: Approximately 6cm. Length: 3.5cm. Width: Approximately 3cm.
Chinese snuff bottles are a relatively recent development. Tobacco reached China toward the end of the 16th Century AD, and it seems likely that snuff was available by the mid-seventeenth century. Customs records show that by 1685 snuff was entering China, although it could have been used even earlier. Using snuff was largely a habit of the upper classes.
Documents show that snuff was being manufactured in Beijing since the early 18th Century. Mint, camphor, and jasmine were and still are added to snuff in China. The Chinese believed that snuff possessed medicinal qualities.
A large number carry the mark of the Qianlong reign, but most of these were really made during the reign of Tao Kuang (1821-1850) or later. Bottles with interior paintings were first made in the latter part of the nineteenth century.
In craftsmanship and function, Chinese snuff bottles reflect international circuits of trade and cultural exchange, and speak to the mystery and intimacy of everyday objects. Snuff, fine-ground tobacco that is lightly inhaled into the nostril, originated in the Americas, became popular in Europe by the seventeenth century, and was soon after introduced to China by missionaries and merchants. The production and use of snuff bottles emerged as a symbol of social status, and bottles were customarily given as gifts to courtiers, family members, and acquaintances. The height of production was during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), and artisans used an astonishing range of materials, from glass and jade to bamboo and mother-of-pearl. Snuff bottles include several common motifs and themes; for example, different animals or landscapes allude to traditional tales or symbolize a variety of good tidings or wishes.