Hornbill was a valued substance to the Chinese well before snuff bottles came into fashion in the Qing dynasty. It came into its own, however, for the manufacture of Qing belt-buckles, snuff bottles, and other small objects during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Among the greatest carvers of the material was the scholarly artist known as Baishi, who signed his wares and dated two of them, establishing himself as having worked in the Daoguang period. Although many of his bottles are signed, it is also obvious that he produced unsigned works as well (see, for instance, a bottle formerly from the Meriem Collection, sold in these rooms, 19 September 2007, lot 707). Many of his signed works are carved with very similar chi dragon narrow sides, allowing the possibility that the workshop with which he was associated also made a range of plain bottles, the present example included.