Nephrite jade snuff bottle in the shape of an elephant

Accession Number

Nephrite jade snuff bottle in the shape of an elephant


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1875-1925

Medium & Support
nephrite on wood base

3 7/16 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 5/16 in (8.8 cm x 6.3 cm x 3.4 cm);3 7/16 in x 2 1/2 in x 1 5/16 in (8.8 cm x 6.3 cm x 3.4 cm);1 in x 3 1/16 in x 1 7/16 in (2.5 cm x 7.8 cm x 3.7 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 bluish-green nephrite jade snuff bottle in the shape of an elephant with its head positioned to the side. On the back of the elephant are two openings with gold rims and oval coral stoppers.  Carved on the sides of the elephant are  circles that show the creases on the elephants body.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type
snuff bottle

Collection Area

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coral (material)
elephant (paper size)
jades (objects)
snuff bottles
stoppers (container components)

2 Related Resources

Docent Materials for Exercising the Eye: The Gertrude Kasle Collection
(Part of: Docent Information From Training Continuing Education Sessions)

& Author Notes

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