World Expo and Chinese Culture – Snuff Bottle from Qing Dynasty

Snuff bottle has been an exotic goods, it was taken to China by Italian missionary during the Ming Dynasty. However, after face-lift via Chinese traditional art, later with the production and painting technologies become more and more sophisticated increasingly, snuff bottle become a symbol of identity and taste in the socitey. Both at the London Expo held in 1862 and Panama Expo held in 1915, Chinese snuff bottles won special medals.

Original snuff bottles from the Qing period are a desirable target for serious collectors and museums. A good bottle has an extra quality over and above its exquisite beauty and value: that is touch. Snuff bottles were made to be held and so, as a rule, they have a wonderful tactile quality.

Snuff bottles were made out of many different materials including porcelain, jade, ivory, wood, tortoiseshell, metal and ceramic, though probably the most commonly used material was glass.

The snuff bottle winning prizes at World Expo is an inside-painted snuff bottle. The so-called inside-painting, namely use a specific fine brush, painted exquisite picture inside the snuff bottle by hand.

The class of bottle that arouses most interest is that known as inside painted. These are glass bottles which have pictures and often calligraphy painted on the inside surface of the glass.These delightful scenes are only an inch or two high and are painted while manipulating the brush through the neck of the bottle.

There still has production of inside-painted snuff bottles today, as a pure artwork, snuff bottles had been wiped off its original practical value. While the workmanship of inside hand painting has passed on from generation to generation, and become an essence of traditional Chinese art.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China

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