This bottle represents an important and intriguing development from the mid-Qing period onwards where scholars, using the iron-brush of the seal carver, decorated their own snuff bottles if they were in suitably soft materials (or even in harder ones if they were skilled with lapidary tools). The direct involvement of the literati in this way encouraged a series of literary subjects, often taken from ancient bronzes which, largely because of their inscriptions in ancient texts, became a collecting obsession with Qing scholars. It appears no other bottle from this group has been published with a design of a cicada on one side. The subject, however, is a suitable reference, since the cicada was a common decorative motif on archaic bronzes and utilized in formalized border designs. On the present bottle, however, the cicada appears as a realistic insect, and is probably intended to serve more as a symbol of longevity.
The name Youshan, which is an assumed name, appears on other coconut shell snuff bottles, but at present cannot be associated with any particular scholar.