Snuff Bottles

Sitting in our dining room cabinet are five snuff bottles. Now my dad’s, they once belonged to my grandfather and probably his father before that, etc. My grandfather had fled to Taiwan during Mao’s reign. With him came these snuff bottles, as well as an opium addiction and the knowledge that all of my ancestor’s land in China was no longer theirs. In Taiwan, my grandfather was seen as a foreigner, and he struggled to fight his addiction. Years later, he was addiction free, married, and had started a small store with his wife. And a few years after my dad was born, they moved to Brazil with promises of economic opportunity and a better life. During the move, he took those snuff bottles with him, a reminder of his first journey across waters. Both of my parents then grew up in Brazil, helping with the family store while also going to school. My parents eventually bought a house here when my dad started working in CT. With him came the snuff bottles, given to him by my grandfather to remind him of his own home and his first journey across waters. These snuff bottles are a reminder of These snuff bottles are a reminder of resilience, of hope, of travels taken across waters for a better future. They’re a reminder of multiple immigrations and of the struggles immigrants have as they are seen as perpetual outsiders. They’re a reminder of my heritage and culture—Chinese, Taiwanese, Brazilian--a reminder that there’s always a way forward but also always a way to go back home.

Year: 1990

– Jessica Sun

Relationship:  unknown unknown