God of Longevity Agate Snuff Bottle

c. 1900
W: 1.75" D: 1.0" H: 2.75"
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A mixture of finely powdered tobacco, herbs, and spices, snuff was introduced to China in the 17th century by Western diplomats. Initially reserved for ranking members of Qing-dynasty society, the practice provided an opportunity to display one's refined aesthetic through collectible snuff bottles. This late 19th-century snuff bottle is made of a pale agate, smoothed to a rounded rectangular form. Inclusions of carnelian running through the bottle have been carved in low relief to depict Shoulao (壽老), the God of Longevity. Recognizable by his prominent forehead, Shoulao is pictured here beneath a pine tree, another common motif of longevity. The beautifully worked stone bottle is finished with a red carnelian stopper, likely carved of the same stone specimen as the bottle.

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