Robert Hall

Chinese Snuff Bottles

Organic material of Animal Origin


Coral was highly valued at court, and it was used with great economy.  Thus the form of the bottle often follows the form of the coral ‘branch’.


Ivory, from elephants tusks, was a great source of soft material perfect for carving.  Workshops in Beijing and Guangzhou produced both carved examples and plain works.   Old, well patinated ivory is a joy to hold: its smooth buttery surface is irresistible.  Ivory acquires a delightful patination with age and handling.


Other materials include walrus ivory, which was usually stained green to imitate jadeite and Hornbill, from the beak of the helmeted hornbill, an extremely rare bird found in the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo