How this art form started or come about is really interesting. Snuff bottles were used in early days (early Qing dynasty) to contain powdered tobacco, they were often carried by the Qing Emperors and court officials wherever they went. Occasionally they would dug out some powdered stuff (from a tiny spoon which was part of the stopper) and put it on the palm where they would take a sniff. It is like modern day when one would take out a cigarette from the pack and start puffing with it.
It was told that there was this somebody who had a habit of sniffing from the stuff put in the snuff bottle. One day when he woke up from a sleep, he was terribly in need of a sniff (like drug addicts today) but unfortunately he found that the snuff bottle was empty. Out of desperation, he used a small stick to dig out whatever stuff stuck on the wall of the bottle. In this way he could still satisfy his desire for a sniff at the remnant tobacco powder.
|After digging at the wall of the snuff bottle|
Snuff bottles can be made from many different materials, from porcelain, glass to quartz crystals. Obviously the value of these bottles depend on the fame and recognition of the artists who painted on them. Some masters' works can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Recently, antique snuff bottles had been auctioned for millions of dollars.
Below are some of my collection of snuff bottles from the early 1900s.
|叶仲三款 (1875 - 1945)|
|Painted in 1908|