Snuff Box from Khartoum
The Highlanders’ Museum
Snuff was a powdered form of tobacco, sniffed through the nose. It was often taken by the more elite members of society, whilst lower classes tended to smoke tobacco. It was once believed to have medicinal properties.
This Sudanese snuff box was found on the battlefield during the Sudan Campaign. Colonial British and Egyptian armies were fighting to control Sudan.
A note inside the box reads, ‘This box was found on the battlefield of Atbara on the 8th of April 1898. The contents is a piece of the staircase of General Gordon’s Palace, Khartoum, taken from there 4th day of September 1898. Pte J White.’
General Gordon was Governor-General of Sudan and was killed there during an earlier battle. In Britain, Gordon was a popular figure and the public was outraged by his death. He came to be viewed as a martyr for the British empire and objects associated with him, like the fragment of staircase, were sought-after.
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