Nephrite Jade Purse-shaped Snuff Bottle

Accession Number

Nephrite Jade Purse-shaped Snuff Bottle


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1780-1880

Medium & Support

4 1/2 in x 3 in x 3/8 in (11.4 cm x 7.7 cm x 1 cm);1 in x 2 1/16 in x 1 in (2.6 cm x 5.2 cm x 2.5 cm);3 7/16 in x 3 in x 3/8 in (8.8 cm x 7.7 cm x 1 cm);4 1/2 in x 3 in x 1 in (11.4 cm x 7.7 cm x 2.5 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
A white nephrite jade snuff bottle that is shaped like a handbag. It has a rounded bottom and shoulders. Where the clasp at the top of the handbag would be is a square opening of the snuff bottle that is capped with transparent pink cap. On this opening are carved vertical lines that continue onto the surface of the snuff bottle to replicate creases. Also decorated on the surface are carved abstract curls. The snuff bottle is sitting on a wooden stand.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type
snuff bottle

Collection Area

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purses (drawstringed accessories)
snuff bottles

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted