Chinese Snuff Bottles of the OKI Shoichiro Collection Gallery

This gallery was established in 2008, commemorating the generous donation of 1,200 items of Chinese snuff bottles by Mr. OKI Shoichiro, a world-renowned collector of snuff bottles.
Snuff bottles are small containers of “snuffs”. Snuffs or powdered tobacco leaves are consumed by snuffing them through the nose or rubbing them onto the nasal cavity and people enjoy its stimulant scent or flavor. It was introduced to Europe from the American continent in around mid-sixteenth century. The use of snuffs, an elegant way of consuming tobacco without producing smoke or smell, became a great fashion particularly among the European court and aristocrats around the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries.
Snuffs were introduced to China by the latter half of the seventeenth century, gaining great popularity within the Qing court and were gradually disseminated widely through the whole society. The snuffs were later stored in small airtight bottles uniquely Chinese in order to withstand the humid climate. Each of these snuff bottles has a stopper with a small spoon attached to spoon up the powdered tobacco. The size of snuff bottles are generally the palm of the hand and were appreciated as elaborate artworks as well as being used as practical containers. The materials ranged from porcelain to glass, jade and agate and the various decorative techniques that reveal extremely exquisite workmanship established an individual genre for snuff bottles within the field of decorative art.

The materials of the snuff bottles of the OKI collection range from ceramics to glass, jade, metals, lacquer and wood, each of which can be subdivided by decorative techniques or types of motifs. This room fully incorporates this diversity and introduces the visitors the quintessence of Chinese craftsmanship from various aspects including materials, forms and decorations.