Tobacco pouch

Certain Qing dynasty (1644-1912) robes lacked pockets, making pouches useful accessories. But the opening of this tiny tobacco pouch is stitched closed, indicating it was purely ornamental. Chinese “double happiness” characters appear on the tassels, and both sides are embroidered with phoenixes (symbolizing the Han empress) and lotuses (symbolizing purity), suggesting it was worn by a woman.

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What does this purely ornamental pouch tell us about the value of tobacco (or the practice of smoking) in early 20th century China?

responded: Feb 20, 2013

Posted by Celeste Hamilton

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As tobacco was a luxury item reserved for the rich at the time, women must have worn it purely as a symbol of their power. They could afford to wear it as an ornamental object, without actually consuming it. My grandmother says that the fact that this pouch was worn by women demonstrates the equality of men and women during this time period.

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