Amber was valued long before the snuff-bottle era and considered to be a symbol of longevity, since it was known to have lain in the ground being transformed over a long period of time. It would have become a popular material for snuff bottles from very early in the development of the art-form. It is one of the most beautiful of exotic materials used for snuff bottles (see the note to lot 207 for a brief description of the material).
This is part of a rare group of mid-Qing animal-form snuff bottles, the majority of which are in white nephrite (although for a very rare black jade example, see lot 202). Other examples in amber are known, although they are considerably rarer than their jade counterparts. For other amber examples, see a bear-form bottle illustrated in Moss, Graham and Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, no. 288 and a squirrel-form bottle, no. 287; a pig-form bottle illustrated by R. Kleiner, in Chinese Snuff Bottles from the Collection of John Ault , no. 102; and two boar-form bottles, the first illustrated by B. Stevens, The Collector's Book of Snuff Bottles, no. 467, and the second sold in these rooms, 3 December 1992, lot 376.