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Tobacco bottles first appeared in China during the reign of Emperor Kang Xi 300 years ago. These tiny but exquisite bottles soon also became works of art, each with its own unique features. The especially beautiful ones featured paintings inside the translucent bottle.
Liu Shouben's Studio is a boutique in Baigongfang, which sells these reverse painted tobacco bottles. The 65-year-old Liu, a member of International Tobacco Bottles Association, is a master painter whose Beijing-style paintings are favored by collectors worldwide.
All bottles here are made with jade, carnelian, quartz, or crystal. It usually takes 2 weeks to 2 months to finish the reverse painting. Mr. Liu showed me a bottle that took two months to complete. It was called ¡®The Hundred Children¡¯, and you can actually see all one hundred on the bottle! This amazingly detailed work of art cost RMB 20000.
You can also find bottles with different themes, like spring lantern feast, ancient beauties, fairy tales, and landscapes. You can even have your own favorite image painted inside the bottle. It will take one month to wait though, and will likely set you back RMB 200 to RMB 8000 pending the quality.
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