Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Chinese Snuff Bottles

While GB was staying with us we went to the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight.   One of the remarkable items there is Lord Lever’s collection of Chinese snuff bottles. 

He collected 188 snuff bottles – mostly around 1918 - and his collection is one of the best in the country.

Snuff is powdered tobacco mixed with herbs and spices and inhaled through the nose.  The habit of snuff taking spread to China from the West in the 17th and 18th centuries.

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.

Many of the bottles were brilliantly designed and made from a variety of materials including glass, porcelain, stone, ivory, coral, lacquer, amber and even a bean pod.


  1. It's amazing how much I miss when going round a place like the Lady Lever Art Gallery. I saw the snuff bottles and you even pointed them out to me but I still didn't 'see' them properly.

  2. My grandmother, on my mother's side, used snuff most of her adult life... but she didn't snort it. She mixed it with a bit of flour, and put a spoonful between her cheek and gums, and kept a plastic cup with a napkin stuffed down in there to spit the juice into. I tried it once, and nearly killed myself trying not to a)inhale the powder and b) rinse that nasty tasting stuff out of my mouth without swallowing any! Grandma was a real tough cookie, I tell you.

    When we were in Scotland, I was fascinated by a huge collection of snuff horns (snuff boxes made of the ends of ram, deer, bull horns) with beautiful metal caps affixed that were adorned with gems and jewels... so pretty!

  3. I can see these old bottles make lovely collectible items, even if I don't endorse the habit as such :)

  4. Those are beautiful! Although using tobacco isn't.

  5. The Lady Lever Art Gallery in Port Sunlight was one of my favourite spots around your area. I had a great day there, I wouldn't mind to go back!

    1. If you ever do we shall have to have lunch or dinner together! Wouldn't that be great!

  6. those are really beautiful. It was such an odd habit.


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