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Snuff

Snuff is tobacco ground to a fine, smooth powder, and, as it is known, is sniffed up the nose. In 1753 the Swedish Botanist Carolus Linnaeus names the plant genus, nicotiana and describes two species, nicotiana rustica and nicotiana tabacum). Tobacco is native to the Americas, and had been used there for hundreds of years by the native Indians before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Around 1560's tobacco was introduced into France (1556), Portugal (1558), Spain (1559), England (1564 or 65) entirely as a medicinal herb, to arrive in southern China by the late 16th century probably introduced by Portuguese merchants. All along the sea routes wherever they had trading posts, the Portuguese began the limited planting of tobacco. Before the end of the sixteenth century they had developed these small farms to a point where they could be assured of enough tobacco to meet their personal needs, for gifts, and for barter. By the beginning of the seventeenth century these farms had, in many places, become plantations, often under native control. During the 16th century tobacco was also introduced into Japan by Dutch and Portuguese trading vessels calling at ports in Nagasaki and Kagoshima. It is spread through the country over the ensuing decades, often by Buddhist monks, who use tobacco seeds to pay for lodging along the routes of their pilgrimages. Tobacco continued to be a part of the tribute given to the Emperor, due to its relative rarity, but later, after cultivation of the plant was started in the Philippines by the Spanish, it became an item of trade. It was both smoked and taken as snuff. By the end of the Ming dynasty an edict was issued forbidding the planting and use tobacco in 1612 to be followed by a similar edict in Japan c. 1620. In China the emperor decrees that any person trafficking in tobacco will be decapitated (1638), the decree proves ineffectual as smoking spreads within the court. A second prohibition is issued in 1641. With the rise of the Manchus in 1644 its use was permitted again. Bt the mid 17th century snuff was introduced by the Jesuits to soon become quite popular from the court on down. By the mid 18th century, snuff-taking was a popular habit in China, acceptable in all circles of society. Indeed, it was even encouraged at the Imperial Court. See further: Snuff bottles

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