Each masterwork of art takes much skill and dedication to produce.

China’s deep history of traditional arts involving calligraphy, pottery, and remarkable paintings is a testament to the country’s ancient roots.

One of their intriguing classical artworks consists of painting the insides of snuff bottles — no bigger than the palm of a hand — with careful strokes of a tiny brush. As if that’s not tricky enough, everything has to be done in reverse so that it makes sense when seen from the front.

▼ We cannot begin to fathom the amount of practice it takes to perfect the craft.

Snuff bottles came into existence in the early part of the 18th century when ground tobacco was introduced to China, as a means of keeping the aromatic product dry.

Somewhere along the way, an artist by the name of Gan Xuanwen began using the interior walls of clear bottles as canvas, producing an exquisite new art form that quickly caught on among craftsmen. But as powdered snuff would damage the delicate paintings within, these were purely aesthetic vessels separate from those that actually contained tobacco. They soon became sought-after collector’s items for their artistic qualities.

▼ Some are really gorgeous to look at…

▼ …while others just make us want to own them as decorations.

▼ Some are so tiny that they are barely larger than fingertips.

Deftly inserting slivers of bamboo or fine brushes into the narrow necks of snuff bottles, craftsmen are so adept at doing everything backwards that they can even write in reverse.

▼ What a way to leave a message in a bottle.

Although snuff bottles have been around for centuries, they remained largely unknown to the Japanese Internet until recently:

“There’s so many talented people in the world. I want one.”
“If I see this being painted before my eyes, I will buy it immediately.”
“So this is traditional Chinese art.”
“This is really amazing.”
“I’m sure they can be mass-produced, but hand-painting them makes each one truly unique.”

Interested individuals can search for “Chinese snuff bottles” or 鼻煙壺 online.

Cost varies depending on the design, size, and material used in making the bottles, with ancient and ornate ones fetching as much as US$10,000. Snuff bottles with simple paintings, however, can go for as low as $10, a small price to pay for a little piece of traditional history, and certainly cheaper than a heavy steel Chinese sword.

Source: YouTube/Aries Tcs, YouTube/Few Second FUN via Kotaro, Shanghai Daily
Featured image: Twitter/@Kay_J5536

● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!