Tobacco jar, Japan, 1701-1800

Made:
1701-1800 in Japan
maker:
Unknown

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Tobacco jar, wood carved in form of human skull, with ivory snake crawling through ear and eye sockets, 18th century(?), Japan

Made of boxwood, this tobacco box has been skilfully carved into the shape of a human skull, with an ivory snake slithering through the ear and eye sockets. Tobacco grew in popularity across the world from the 1600s onwards, favoured for its taste, aroma and nicotine boost.

The design is similar to a memento mori, used to remind a person of the shortness of life – the health risks now associated with smoking were not really known until the middle years of the twentieth century.

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Tobacco jar

Details

Category:
Smoking
Object Number:
A74840
Materials:
boxwood, ivory, snake
type:
tobacco jar
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • container - receptacle
  • tobacco container
credit:
Stead
status:
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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