You are here

Thursday, November 30, 2000 - 19:30

The Exquisite Art of Chinese Snuff Bottles

Dick Ning Wang

Finnish Embassy Residence

30 Guanghua Lu

There are many different beliefs as to who introduced the use of tobacco to the Chinese. One can read that tobacco was brought to China by the Russians, Manchu, Portuguese, and the Jesuit Priests. Perhaps it is most likely that it was introduced in different regions by different people around the same time. That time would be the early to mid 1600’s. Snuff was considered a more acceptable way of consuming tobacco than smoking. Snuff was originally stored in Snuff Boxes brought from the West, but the high humidity in China made them unusable. Thus the Snuff Bottle was invented. Actually, small bottles were used for medicine long before Snuff found its way into Chinese Society. Through the centuries the use of snuff has been both embraced and condemned by the emperors of China. In 1638 the use or sale of tobacco was illegal, yet a few decades later, the best craftsmen in the country were making Snuff Bottles for the emperor. During the 1700's snuff increased in popularity among the Chinese, which created a great demand for Snuff Bottles. They became conversation pieces and collectable items almost immediately.

Dick Ning Wang, who has for many years worked at the Asian Art Department of Sotheby's in London and New York, has offered to lecture us on his specialty, Snuff Bottles. This promises to be a very interesting evening: to hear an expert on the subject of Snuff Bottles who has actually put together several important collections for action on behalf of Sotheby’s.