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  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1740 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lacquered leather and gilding

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Furniture and lacquered items never represented the main bulk of the export trade from China to Europe. However, small lacquered objects were made at the workshops in Canton to special orders of European clients, and shipped by individual captains or merchants. In addition to shapes and designs inspired by Japanese objects, the workshops also imitated western models, especially between 1730 and 1770.

This barber's bowl, made of pigskin covered in black lacquer and decorated with a European coat of arms, belongs to this category. The workshops usually waited for the ship to arrive with the order and the model, and completed their assigned work by the time the ship had to leave again.

Physical description

Lacquered leather barber's bowl with an oval shape similar to European models in metal or wood, with a flat base, sides curving sharply upwards and a horizontal broad rim with vertical lip; a semi-circular indentation in one of the long sides. The core is probably formed of one piece of hardened pig skin, shaped on a wooden mould. This core is clearly visible on the base where a patch of lacquer has been removed. On the interior of the base of one long side (the one without the indentation) three small bumps are visible; these may be the heads of fastening pegs.

The outer surfaces are undecorated, lacquered in plain black over an undercoat of red lacquer; the decoration is painted in gold over a red undercoat. The flat rim is decorated with three cartouches of scrolling foliage set between bands of geometric diaper. The interior of the sides is painted with four floral sprays and three small motifs which may be imitation of Japanese mon. In the centre is a coat of arms set within scrolling foliage and painted in gold, red and green; the subject is a rampant lion and an arm holding a crucifix under a none-pointed coronet.

Place of Origin

China (made)


ca. 1740 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Lacquered leather and gilding


Width: 34 cm, Height: 7.4 cm

Descriptive line

Lacquered leather barber's bowl decorated in gold, red and green with a European coat of arms, China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1740

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Clunas, Craig (ed.). Chinese Export Art and Design. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987, p. 84, fig. 64.

Labels and date

Barber's bowl
Pigskin covered in black and gold lacquer decoration.
An unidentified French or Dutch coat of arms.
About 1740 [1987]


Pigskin; Lacquer


Lacquering; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Coat of arms; Floral scrolls; Mon; Diaper


Lacquerware; Household objects


East Asia Collection

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