In the mid-Qing period, as the habit of snuffing spread gradually to all levels of society from the Court, certain literati began to create their own snuff bottles, or at least decorated them. Among these is a group of coconut shell bottles, with inscriptions by scholar-artists. The content of these wares often incorporated the ancient inscriptions from archaic bronzes that intrigued mid-Qing scholars for their epigraphic content. These coconut bottles were mostly made during the nineteenth century, the most likely date for this snuff dish, although the inscription itself is taken from an ancient bronze vessel, as is made obvious by not only the style of the script but the message it contains.
Snuff dishes to match coconut bottles are occasionally found, although this is one of the most sophisticated, with its well defined dish-form, as opposed to relying on the natural curve of the shell to create the dish. The proposed evolution of the snuff dish is set out in Moss, Graham, Tsang, The Art of the Chinese Snuff Bottle. The J & J Collection, Vol. 2, p. 748 where it is suggested that originally snuff dishes, if found at all, were incorporated in the bottle form, as a depression or flat surface on one or both sides, and that only when the Manchu warriors who first espoused snuffing and snuff bottles came down from their horses to lead a more effete life during the mid-Qing period did the additional paraphernalia for snuffing evolve.