Snuff bottle - ROM2005_3332_1


Snuff bottle

Medium:Glass, mould-blown, with overlay and cold-cut
Geography: China
Date: mid 18th-19th Century
Period: Qing Dynasty
5.2 x 4.3 cm
Object number: 922.20.544
Credit Line: The George Crofts Collection
Not on view

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.

"Glass was used to make snuff bottles… These were imperial made and their quality could not be reached by imitations made by the people...the white was as pure as crystal and the red bright as flaming pearl. The bottles were lovely." (Wang Shizhen, 1634-1711, official and scholar, 1704.)

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