Lacquer box


Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Yongle reign, 1403-1424
Carved red lacquer (tihong) on wood core
H x W: 7.9 x 26.6 cm (3 1/8 x 10 1/2 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer


China, crane, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), pavilion, pine tree, sage, WWII-era provenance, Yongle reign (1403 - 1424)
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Fritz Low-Beer


Two seated gentlemen enjoy this garden setting, which is imbued with symbols of longevity such as a pine tree and the fungus of immortality (at the lower left). In front of the pavilion, large rocks are arranged to imitate a mountain with a cavelike doorway, an allusion to a paradise of the immortals that is entered through a grotto. The man holding a wand may be a Daoist sage and his visitor a disciple seeking the secrets of immortality. As soon as the student becomes an immortal, the swooping crane will carry him heavenward to join other transcendent beings.

The precisely carved geometric patterns in the background--a different one for air, water, and land--are hallmarks of the exemplary workmanship of early fifteenth-century lacquer ware.

Published References
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 116, p. 177.
  • Nicole de Bisscop W.G. de Kesel. Chinees Lakwerk. Zutphen. p. 95.
  • Harry Mason Garner. Two Chinese Carved Lacquer Boxes of Fifteenth Century in The Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 9 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 41-50.
  • William C. Ketchum. Boxes. Smithsonian Illustrated Library of Antiques New York. p. 76.
  • Lacquer: An International History and Illustrated Survey. New York. p. 39.
  • Celia Heil. Lacquer Across the Oceans: Independent Invention or Diffusion?. .
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum