Ivory snuff bottle

Accession Number

Ivory snuff bottle


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1825-1900

Medium & Support

4 1/8 in. x 2 1/8 in. x 1 in. ( 10.4 cm x 5.4 cm x 2.6 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Mr. Robert W. Coggan

Subject matter
Snuff bottles have fascinated Western and Asian collectors since they were first produced in China in the early part of the 18th century. Conceived as precious containers for ground tobacco imported into China, snuff bottles were initially made for the emperor and the court, and eventually produced in much greater quantities for a public who enjoyed their functionality as well as their display as symbols of status.
These exquisite miniatures, which measure between one-and-a-half and three inches high, not only illustrate the technical virtuosity of Qing dynasty craftsmen, but also provide a window on life and culture in late imperial China.
For example, early 18th-century imperial glass and painted enamel bottles show the influence of the Jesuits at court, and the imperial fascination with Western technical advances. Carved examples in different mediums such as jade and glass illustrate the relationships between craftsmen working at the imperial workshops, and the favoured motifs across materials. Later 19th-century versions reveal how earlier imperial tastes became popular with the general public, while confirming the continuing status of snuff use in Qing society.

Physical Description
An ivory snuff bottle shaped like a flask. Carved in high relief are people sitting on chairs around tables with trees in the background. On the top of the flask is a stopper. The snuff bottle sitting on an incised wooden snuff bottle.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type
snuff bottle

Collection Area

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ivory (material)
people (agents)
serving tables (tables)
snuff bottles
stoppers (container components)
trees (woody plants)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted