Apollo Artwork

Superb Inside Painting Craft from Apollo Artwork

  Snuff bottle's History and Schools of thought

Snuff coming to China

Tobacco originated with the Indians of North America and has a long history of over 2000 years. Long ago the Indians lived a hard life, often walking long distances or migrating to look for food. During this, they often smoked tobacco to make themselves forget starvation and weariness. Sometimes they also used the tobacco to treat diseases.  At that time there were also Indians in Mexico. They used tobacco when they were offering sacrifices to the gods. For example, the tobacco was burned to sacrifices to the Sun God to pray for a good harvest and prosperity in the coming year.  

The Indians used tobacco not only for religious rites, but some social activities such as, wedding, birthdays, funerals and visiting etc.. In social activities, tobacco was regarded as a noble and precious gift.

One kind of pipe, whose surface was decorated with beautiful feathers, was made from red clay by the American Indian, symbolizing peace. The tribal chieftains passed the pipe to express friendship and respect. Even today some tribes still have this tradition. 

In 1492, Columbus discovered the new world, resulting in the spread of American tobacco all over the world.  

Snuff is a kind of pharmaceutical preparation in which the perfectly ground tobacco power is put with some rare medicinal herbs such as musk, etc. They are sealed into the wax pills and then stained several different colors, such as dark purple, deep yellow, pale yellow, etc. It tastes mellow and sharp. It is said that it can make the eyes bright, exorcise epidemic disease, and invigorate blood circulation.

In the late 16th century, tobacco was circulated from America to Luzon, Philippines and Luzon to Fujian, China. Then it was spread from the Philippines to Japan by Portuguese and Spanish sailors, traders, missionaries. Later, Japanese tobacco was spread to Korea and the northeast of China, especially Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. In a short time, snuffing became customary in China  At the same time, tobacco, snuff and snuff bottles came to China from Russian traders.

Snuff Bottle -- Snuff's Chinese Vessel

Because of the humid climate in South East Asia, snuff boxes were impractical for the storage of snuff.

For centuries Chinese had used small bottles (yao-ping) to store their medicine. By adding a top with a cork and small spoon to the medicine bottle the Chinese invented the Snuff Bottle.

During the time of the Qing Dynasty the taking of snuff became popular throughout China and was used at all levels of society from the Emperor to the common people.

The feudal nobles, led by the Emperor, looked for precious materials from which to have craftsmen make Snuff Bottles.

The collectors of the world believe that Snuff Bottles embodies many of the arts and crafts of the Chinese.

Snuff Bottles are divided into six material types.  
Metal, Jade, Organic, Ceramics, Glassware and Inside Painting.

The Story of inside painting 

The Legend.

In the later years of the Qianlong period, a minor local official who was addicted to snuff travelled to Beijing on business.

Because of his not bribing the local official, his business was delayed again and again, until finally he could only afford to stay at an old temple.

Due to his snuff addiction, he ran out of money to buy it.

Whilst picking out the remainder of snuff from his snuff bottle, his behavior was observed by a Buddhist monk.

The monk inspired by what he saw used a bamboo pick with hook dipped in ink to paint on the inside of the clear bottle.

In the beginning because of the smooth surface on glass and crystal, craftsmen could only paint simple pictures.

These consisted of grasshoppers, Chinese cabbages, simple landscapes with a few touches, and simple figures, etc.

Later, craftsmen learned to fill the bottle with iron sand and emery, then shake it and rub it smooth just like Xuan paper. They could then paint the bottle in great detail.

Four Schools of thought

Jing school of thought

The four schools of thought of Inside Painting snuff bottles all derived from Beijing .                       

The Jing is the oldest of the four. Beijing was the capital of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, which developed the economy in which all trades flourished.                   

Inside Painting Snuff Bottles developed as an art form during this time.  

Generally, pictures, words and seal combined together became the Jing school art style.

In earlier times, Ma Shaoxuan, Zhou Leyuan and Ye Zhongsan were famous artists, but now Liu Shouben is.



Lu school of thought

The artists of the Lu School started in Bo Shan of Shan Dong Province . The school was developed by the inside painter artist Bi Rongjiu who came to Bo Shan from Beijing in 1890. 

Its main characteristic is that the painter draws on the inside surface of snuff bottle with the glaze, and then fire it.

It will therefore not leak when water is put in .                     

In earlier times, Bi Rongjiu was famous, but now Li Kechang is.   



Ji school of thought

Ji was formed later, but the number of artists belonging to this school is the largest of the four--Ji, Jing, Lu and Yue. 

Its main characteristics are:          

1. It is based on the art of traditional Chinese painting.                       

2. It retains the traditional form of freehand brush work.                       

3. It specializes in painting human figures, mountain scenery and water, flower-and-bird, grass-and-insects, animals and penmanship. 

The founder of Ji school of thought is Mr.
Wang Xisan.


Yue school of thought

Yue is famous for its beautiful colours and decorative style.

It is the youngest one of the four schools of thought.

It originated in Shan Tou in Guang Dong Province .

Its famous artist is Wu Songling.