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
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
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
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.
of inside painting
In the later years of the Qianlong
period, a minor local official who was addicted to snuff travelled to
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
In the beginning because of the
smooth surface on glass and crystal, craftsmen could only paint simple
These consisted of grasshoppers,
Chinese cabbages, simple landscapes with a few touches, and simple
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.
Schools of thought
Jing school of thought
The four schools of thought of Inside Painting snuff bottles all derived from
is the oldest of the four.
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.
school of thought
The artists of the Lu School started in Bo Shan of
. 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
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
Its main characteristics are:
1. It is based on the art of traditional Chinese
2. It retains the traditional form of freehand brush
3. It specializes in painting human figures, mountain
scenery and water, flower-and-bird, grass-and-insects, animals and
The founder of Ji school of thought is Mr.
Yue school of thought
Yue is famous for its beautiful colours and decorative style.
It is the youngest one of the four schools
It originated in Shan Tou in
Its famous artist is Wu Songling.