Pink tourmaline was a popular material in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in China and was used for jewelry, decorative carvings, snuff bottles and snuff bottle stoppers. While a great percentage of extant tourmaline snuff bottles were long attributed to the late Qing dynasty or Republic period, recent scholarship has revealed that tourmaline bottles were also made during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. See Moss, Graham, Tsang, A Treasury of Chinese Snuff Bottles, The Mary and George Bloch Collection, Vol. 3, Hong Kong, 1998, pp. 103-5, no. 407, for a discussion of tourmaline bottles and the scholarship leading to their re-attribution.
The present bottle is an unusual example from the later group. The heavy stone was thoughtfully used by the carver, who used the unusual outer, crystal-like layer on one side to create the deeply-carved scene of the lady beneath a banana plant. The carving on the opposite side, in lower relief, can be compared to a bottle in the collection of Ann and John Hamilton, sold at Sotheby’s New York, 27 Mary 2003, lot 385. The Hamilton bottle depicts boys at play in a rocky and is of a similar shape and size to the present example.