The snuff bottles in the Tata collection are a source of great delight and are known to collectors all over the world. As the name implies, these bottles were designed to hold snuff: a preparation of powdered tobacco, enhanced with spices. Snuff was introduced to the Qing court (1644-1912 CE) by Europeans in the late 17th Century. It soon became fashionable in the Imperial court. The early bottles were simple in form. With demand and popularity, these evolved into beautiful works of art. Snuff bottles are a reflection of Chinese art in miniature form. They are especially rich in Chinese symbols because as personal objects they were carried on one’s person and reflect the sentiments and style of their owners. The decoration frequently symbolises a wish for blessings, for numerous offspring, for wealth and longevity. The bottles have different shapes and are made of various materials like jade, amber, porcelain, wood, ivory and horn. The glass bottles are especially beautiful for they are found plain, carved, overlaid with different layers of colours and were even made to imitate other materials like coral, amber and other semi-precious stones. Interesting among these snuff bottles are the glass ones painted from the inside with beautiful landscapes and human figures.
Sirs D.J. Tata & Ratan Tata Art Collections
18th -19th Century CE