Snuff bottle 山水人物纹玉鼻烟壶 - ROM2015_14961_16


Snuff bottle 山水人物纹玉鼻烟壶

Medium:Worked and polished jade
Geography: China
Date: mid 17th-early 20th Century
Period: Qing Dynasty
6.7 x 4.7 cm
Object number: 922.20.466
Credit Line: The George Crofts Collection
Not on view
DescriptionOn greyish white jade, this flattened and oval vase-shaped body is marked with streaks of ochreous discoloration which has been utilized in shallow relief decoration. The design motifs exhibit rocks and crab on one face, and high cliffs, pavilion, sage with staff overlooking faint wave pattern encircling base on the other face. One half coral bead is attached off-centre on gree collar of stopper. 玉质白色,局部有糖色。壶身椭圆形,圆直口,弧肩,斜腹,平底。壶身浅浮雕亭台、树木、人物及水波纹。

This small bottle was used for storing snuff, a finely ground tobacco inhaled through the nose. While there are accounts of smoking tobacco in China from the early 17th century, there is no official record of snuff until 1684, when it was among gifts presented to the Kangxi emperor by European missionaries. The habit of snuff taking immediately became popular at court and miniature decorative bottles were specially designed to hold small quantities. As the practice spread beyond the court, the demand for snuff bottles grew, fashioned from almost any material that could be formed in the shape of a bottle.

"I have stayed in the Huai river area for a long time, and have seen that great officials and prominent merchants all consider bottles of white jade and malachite - green jade - as the most valuable ones. Apparently they are not aware of the fact that snuff bottles were originally made of glass, all others being later creations." (Zhao Zhiqian, 1829-1884, scholar and official.)

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