The rise of snuff taking, and the subsequent use and collecting of snuff bottles (biyanhu), was a phenomenon occurring at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. It is best understood within the broader social and historical cross-cultural perspective of the introduction of tobacco. This was a New World crop, brought into China, and to other parts of the globe, initially by European traders in the sixteenth century.
Curated by Clare Chu, who has been active in the field of Chinese snuff bottles for forty years as a curator of exhibitions, auction consultant, lecturer, and writer, this exhibition will incorporate around 120 snuff bottles, including those from the SDCHM and SDSU CCC collections, in addition to bottles on loan from private collectors in San Diego. This exhibition will aim to contextualize the bottles on display in relation to historical context, considering events relevant to the popularization of the substance, its use, and, then, the popularization of snuff-bottles-as-objects.