The Chinese snuff bottles present
an embodiment of many arts and crafts such as drawing, calligraphy,
carving, inlaying, painting, which open up a new form of comprehensive
arts and crafts, have become a miniature of prosperity and development
of arts and crafts in ancient China. Its small, exquisite and diversified
forms, varied decorations and rich content of its designs combine
to form a unique image of art, producing magical charm.
Kinds of Snuff Bottles
The history of Chinese snuff bottles.
It is commonly believed that the snuff bottles were introduced into
China by the western missionaries. The earliest reference of snuff
bottles into China was dated 1684 in the Qing Dynasty. The missionaries
greeted Emperor Kangxi and presented him snuff bottles.
However, the snuff bottles in China actually emerged far earlier
than 1684. The snuff bottles were being made in great quantity by
the Imperial Workshops in around 1700. The Chinese believed that
snuff bottles contained medicinal powders could help to dispel colds,
make eyes bright, refresh the energy, cure migraine and tooth pain,
relieve throat trouble, and cure asthma. So they were very popular
among the upper class and rich people.
Snuff bottles are made of a wide variety of materials. These include
coral, ivory, jade, jadeite, mother of pearl, lapis lazuli, quartz,
malachite, agate, turquoise, porcelain as well as gold, silver and
other exotic materials. Among these materials glass was widely used.
The snuff bottles were always well designed with beautiful carvings
and inlays. However, the inside painting of the snuff bottles are
really the great invention by Chinese craftsmen. Inside painted
snuff bottles were also sometimes made of rock crystal and amber.
Here’s a legend of the origin of inside painting snuff bottles.
In the late years of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1796AD), an
official addicted to snuff stopped on his way at a small temple
for rest. When he took out his snuff bottle to sniff he found it
was empty. He then scraped off a little powder that reminded on
the inner wall of the bottle with the smoke-pick. So the lines were
left on the inner wall of the bottle and they could be visible through
the transparent snuff bottle. A monk at presence saw this and he
got an inspiration. Thus a new art form came into being.
How is an inside painting snuff bottle made?
The bottle is filled with iron sand and emery. Shake the bottle
back and forth to make the inner surface rough. Next, the craftsmen
will use a slender bamboo stick or metal wire with a hook on the
tip where the thin brush attaches to paint slightly and carefully.
It is very difficult because the mouth of the snuff bottles is very
small and the pictures are painted on the inner wall of the snuff
bottle that is quite different with painting on the paper. In the
small room of the snuff bottle the deft artists give a full play
their skills to create figures, animals, birds, flowers and landscapes.
Chinese inner painting snuff bottles are the epitome of traditional
arts. They are welcomed by the collectors all over the world.
Here are some snuff bottles with inner paintings on sale. Each costs
80USD including shipping. The bottle is made of man-made crystal.
It is 12cm high, 7cm wide and 3cm thick. It is packed with an embroidery
gift box. Each bottle took one artist 3 days to paint.
Painting Bottle 1
Painting Bottle 2
Painting Bottle 3
Painting Bottle 4