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A five-lobed (plum blossom) box, the ground of yellow-buff lacquer, decorated with incising in gold, plus painting and filling-in in red, green, dark brown and black lacquer.
The flat top shows a central 'shou' medallion, surrounded by a five-character seal script inscription over a ground of gold-incised 'wan' diaper. The curved part of the sides carries five striding five-clawed dragons among clouds. The vertical part of the sides carries floral scrolls. This scheme is repeated on the lower part of the box.
The characters on the top are executed in true filled-in lacquer, where the diapered ground has been excavated to allow the colours to be laid on. However portions of the decoration on the sides are in painted lacquer. According to Wang Shixiang (9/1983) true filled-in lacquer became rarer after the Xuande period. The base and interior are lacquered red.
All the dragons have had one claw on each foot overpainted with a brown lacquer cloud.
INSCRIPTIONS: On the base, in a vertical central line of large 'kaishu' characters: Da Ming Jia Jing Nian Zhi'.
The formula on the top has been reconstructed (Chinese Lacquer) as: 'cheng ning lu yong fu'( Receive peace, prosperity and eternal happiness).
PROVENANCE: Formerly in the collection of Sir John Figgess.
Place of Origin
Height: 11.5 cm, Diameter: 25.6 cm
Object history note
Formerly in the Figgess collection (Garner, Chinese Lacquer p.186)
Box, decorated with dragons and characters, lacquer on wood, incised and filled-in with polychrome lacquer ('tianqi')
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Published: 'Chinese and Associated Lacquer from the Garner Collection' (BM 1973) no. 168, Sir Harry Garner, 'Chinese Lacquer', p.186.
Garner, Harry (1979) Chinese Lacquer, London-Boston: Faber and Faber, p. 186, pl. 133
East Asia Collection