by Patricia Frischer
|Tourmaline Snuff bottle, like that mined in North County San Diego for the Chinese Empress.|
Clare Chu, curator for the current special exhibition at the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, Miniature Treasures of the Qing Dynasty & Beyond, gave a zoom presentation on Chinese snuff bottles and their place in history.
With the discovery of tobacco, and it use by
the elite, snuff bottle in China initially became status symbols. These bottles
were made of a variety of materials including glass, metal and enamel,
porcelain, and various stones – like jadite, amber, tourmaline, nephrite,
crystal, agate. Materials are both opaque and translucent and use a variety of
techniques to apply decorative carved and painted surfaces.
There was a short discussion about collecting bottles, cleaning then, matching often lost caps and fakes and forgeries. Ms. Chu is a snuff bottle dealer and was joined by Courtenay McGowen , a collector of the same.
Although the bottles were presented in chronological order, I am presented them here in a sort of visual order. Diving deep into any subject is always fascinating and worthwhile. You can move from here to European snuff boxes which are often highly jeweled and reflect that western sensibility.
The exhibition is at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Extension. It will run through February 25, 2024.