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  • Glass Inside-Painted Snuff Bottle with a Traveling Scene

Qing dynasty, Guangxu reign, AD1875-1908

Zhou Leyuan

Glass Inside-Painted Snuff Bottle with a Traveling Scene

Qing dynasty, Guangxu reign, AD1875-1908

Zhou Leyuan

Glass Inside-Painted Snuff Bottle with a Traveling Scene

Height: 6.0 cm, width: 4.4 cm

In the late 17th century, Western snuff and snuff containers entered China. At its peak, various Western countries and the Vatican in Rome often presented snuff and snuff containers as gifts to the court. Since snuff boxes were not ideal containers for snuff, people at the time adapted and used small-mouthed jars originally used in the Ming dynasty for medicine. This is the format of the snuff bottle that became the one with which we are now familiar. The stopper for the opening of the bottle was made from cork, into which was inserted a small long-handled spoon. This was used to scoop out the snuff and either place it into a small dish or in one's palm so that it could be pinched and placed in the nose. In chapter 25 of "Dream of the Red Chamber," there is a part where Qing Wen falls ill, suffering from headaches and a stuffy nose. UsingJia Baoyu's snuff, Qing Wen's nasal congestion is thereby cleared. In the Qing dynasty, with the growing popularity of snuff, snuff bottles became quite common. In the High Qing period, they were made from all sorts of fine materials. In the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820), a major innovation in the production of snuff bottles was made, in which the inside of the bottles could be painted. Painting the inside of a small snuff bottle, with its very restricted opening, is presumably very difficult to accomplish. Corundum sand and small bearings are first placed in the bottle and shaken to make the surface inside slightly rough, which makes it easier for the paint to stick. Then a specially curved fine brush is inserted into the rim less than half a centimeter to paint the interior of the bottle. This bottle portrays a rustic scene with figures and buildings finely painted, with the mountains even having the effect of shading. On one side near the neck is the craftsman's signature that reads, "Painted in the winter month and made by Zhou Leyuan." This snuff bottle is from the former Qing court collection, and Zhou Leyuan was active in the late 19th century. Thus, this bottle is a local work that was presented as tribute to the court in the late 19th century.

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