中文 | ENGLISH
Origin
News
You are here: Home>> Origin >> History

Historic Origin

Culture and History of Tobacco

Firstly discovered in America, tobacco now covers a history of more than 2000 years. The ancient Indians, in order to source food and water sources, often walked long distance; they used the flavor of tobacco to source excitement to finally relive fatigue and used tobacco to cure wounds and diseases. The Indian in the ancient Maya in nowadays Mexico used tobacco on sacrifice and religious ceremonies, hoping to obtain harvest and happy life, and they used tobacco as valuable gifts. America tobacco began to spread to all around the world since 1492 after Columbus discovered American continent.

Origin of Snuff Bottles

Snuff bottles is the exclusive container of snuffs which is a kind of tobacco powder meticulously processed from tobacco and is with restoring consciousness function when be smelted into nose. It rather prevailed since it’s passed to China at late Ming dynasty to middle Qing dynasty.

Snuff bottles, thanks to its tiny patterns, rich and elegant materials, elaborate craftsmanship and exquisite decoration and feature of easy to be carried, is the utility crafts in Qing dynasty for social associations, gifts from friends and relatives and for recreation. And the “International Chinese Snuff Bottle Association” prevails around the world for this very reason.

Scholars and Snuffs

Shi Tao, the famous painter, loves snuff very much and he had a nationally rare snuff bottle “simples processed from Tibetan Corypha umbraculifera seeds and Mr. Cheng Songlin curved and engraved on the bottle, the bottle is finally be collected by several celebrities in Qing dynasty. (From volume IV of Gu Dong Suo Ji (little affaire about antiques) by Deng Zhicheng)

Tan Xinpei, the famous Peking opera actor in end Qing dynasty, the founder of Tan genre opera, loved snuff so much that he never departed with it for a moment. It is said that he has to wash his nose with clean water before every makeup for performance, and this is because he had too much snuffs every day.

Snuff Song

By Aisin Gioro Yongzhong
Snuff but without smoke, tasteful but without aroma,
Faint scent snuffs, exhilarating and refreshing!

At the Gengzi Riot at the 26th Guangxv Year (1900), Empress Cixi, together with emperor Guangxv, escaped to Xi’an, and Hu Ting, the current Xi’an magistrate took the post as imperial palace supply supervisor, frequently met Cixi and he wrote one hundred Chang’an Palace Poem, saying:
Hastily I prepared the eight hundred beads, my official headgears was still decorated with corals.
Fortunately I held Xin’s bottle leather in my pocket, a thousand pieces of gold can hardly buy one such bottle.

Inside painting has great historical relationship with snuff and snuff bottles. Snuff is a brown yellow powder made of tobacco and vanilla and perfumes and is able to “relieve coldness and avoid diseases”. It was brought into China by the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci as tribute in Wanli Years in Ming dynasty. And by Qing dynasty, this imperial article had prevailed in countryside and the custom “present my snuff bottle when meet friends”, people loved snuffs then and “try to collect snuff containers”, and this custom push the snuff bottle production more and more excellent.

In 1696, the current emperor Kangxi, who loves snuff very much, set the first glassworks in China to exclusively produce snuff bottles to award meritorious statesmen and foreign ambassadors. From then, snuff bottles turned to be one symbol for Eight Banners (military-administrative organizations of the Man nationality in the Qing Dynasty) men to show off their status and identity. 

In Qianlong Years, the material of snuff bottles developed from glassware, ceramics to elephant’s tusk, amber, coral, agate, crystal, bamboo root etc. Snuff Song in Xianfeng Years said “phoenix-luan (a mythical bird like the phoenix)-crane-sparrow-wild duck, Chinese dragon-lion-elephant-flood dragon-fish, mountains and pavilions exist in the smoke-like wind and springs-stones-flowers-frogs are contained in the bottle”. Snuff bottles, from its material, to its craftsmanship and decoration, contains everything in the world, its materials include six categories of metal, jade, stone, porcelain, glass and organics and its crafts contains traditional write, paint, engrave, carve, cut, chisel, burn, weld, peck, grind, edge, embed, cast, interlock, paste, lacquer and mould pressing. Snuff bottle is the miniature of arts and crafts in Qing dynasty and is later named as “pocket-size crafts combining multiply Chinese crafts achievements” and became famous in the world.

At the end of Qianlong Years, the inside-painted snuff bottle was created. Inside painting enables snuff bottle crafts achieve “big landscapes contained in one inch space” effect, and make snuff bottle crafts obtain exquisite beyond comparison level, it is deemed as an “unimaginable and uncanny” art. In 1968, collectors from different countries established the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Association and they divided Chinese inside painting into four main genres including “Beijing, Hebei, Shandong and Guangdong” genres.

All rights reserved, without Morgan Xuan Gallery Gallery permit, shall not be reproduced free.
Technical support:Nanjing Shunshang