This bottle belongs to a group of bottles from the mid-Qing period, all probably from the same workshops, all of which bear the typically courtly design of kui dragons surrounding central shou characters, the only difference lying in the color of the enamels used and whether the cloisons were completely filled, or only partially, as here.
These cloisonné enamel bottles have thin strips of wire soldered onto the copper or bronze body, creating separate channels called cloisons, which are then filled with different-colored enamels and fired in a kiln at low temperatures for a short period of time. In the case of this example, however, only some areas were infilled, providing a design in relief against the original gilded ground.
For another snuff bottle of the group, see Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 267.
See also another very similar bottle from the Meriem collection, sold in our New York Rooms, 19 September 2007, lot 645.
The main difference between this technique of partial filling and the fully-filled technique lies in the final finish of the enamels. With the latter, once sufficient layers of enamel were fired into the cloisons they were polished flat, whereas with the present type the enamels were left a little in relief, giving a more jewel-like appearance.