Snuff, or powdered tobacco, was brought to China by Jesuit missionaries in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. Its use spread quickly, as did demand for small containers to hold it. Snuff bottles were produced in large number and an astonishing variety of media, including metal, jade, ivory, bamboo, lacquer, and glass. Not all bottles were functional: many were collected as exoticisms or treasured for their precious materials and exquisite craftsmanship.
Inscription: Enameled on side in black: red seal
Poem: "Drifting across the sun, Turquoise mists grow redder and brighter"
Marking: Four characters enameled in blue: Qianlong
Mary Stillman Harkness , until d. 1950; bequeathed to MMA
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Extravagant Display: Chinese Art in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," December 14, 2010–May 1, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Small Delights: Chinese Snuff Bottles," July 19, 2013–February 17, 2014.