Chinese Snuff Bottle
This Chinese snuff bottle was on show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) from 14 September 2019 to 7 June 2020
The function of these bottles was twofold: to contain snuff tobacco in a convenient manner, and to be a beautiful handheld object. The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) hosted the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society’s annual convention in September 2019. Mia’s collection of over 300 Chinese snuff bottles made it an ideal location for such an event. Curated by Mia’s Chinese art curator Liu Yang, an installation of over 100 of the very best bottles was on display. Mia’s collection includes several masterpieces, and captures the huge range of decorations used to turn these bottles from simply functional to tiny works of art. Some are carved from ivory, others are shaped like fruits and flowers, some hand painted with dramatic battle scenes, some inlaid with precious stones and mother-of-pearl, some have Buddhist or Daoist inspired imagery, and so on. One can imagine a snuff-user pulling one out of his pocket during the Qing dynasty, and allowing the bottle to say something about his character and taste.