Three-tiered octagonal food box with peony spray and scrolls

citation

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th- first half of the 17th century
Medium
Red lacquer on wood core with incised and gold filled decoration (qiangjin)
Dimensions
H x W x D: 17.5 x 17.8 x 18 cm (6 7/8 x 7 x 7 1/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Accession Number
S1987.376a-c
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Container, Lacquer
Type

Box

Keywords
China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), peony, WWII-era provenance, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987

Label

The exterior of this octagonal box is decorated in the qiangjin (engraved gold) technique. In this method of embellishment, the box is repeatedly coated with layers of red lacquer. Lines are then engraved into the surface and a coat of clear lacquer is applied. While the lacquer is still sticky, gold powder or gold leaf is pressed into the lines to fill them. This decorative technique has a long history of use in China and was especially popular in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. A spray of peony flowers, the "king" of flora, enlivens the top of the box and adds an allusion to nobility.

The construction of the box is ingenious. A removable middle ring can be placed between the top and bottom halves to accommodate taller objects, or it can be left out and still not interrupt the box's overall design.

Published References
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 170, pp. 260-261.
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 113.
  • pp. 76-81.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum