Box with cover

Box with cover in filled-in and engraved-gold decoration (technique known as qiangjin and tianqi); rectangular with lobed rounded corners; eight slightly recessed panels, one on each side of box and cover; box stands on a low rectangular foot. Brownish lacquer background; diaper pattern with swastika at center painted in red over top and panels; design of two dragons, clouds, rocks and waves on top of cover; prunus, camellias and ornamental rocks on panels; stylized floral scroll on borders; design is painted in red, black and brown; outlines are incised and filled with gold, much of which has worn off; base and interior of the box are red; close, regular pattern of cracks on interior and exterior. The box has deep, vertical cracks on all surfaces.

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Wanli reign, 1573-1620, probably 1580s-1590s
Medium
Red lacquer over wood core with polychrome, gold, and silver, and engraved gold (qiangjin) decoration
Dimensions
H x W x D: 18.7 x 19.3 x 34.6 cm (7 3/8 x 7 5/8 x 13 5/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1973.2a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Container, Lacquer
Type

Box

Keywords
camellia, China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), plum blossom, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

Box with cover in filled-in and engraved-gold decoration (technique known as qiangjin and tianqi); rectangular with lobed rounded corners; eight slightly recessed panels, one on each side of box and cover; box stands on a low rectangular foot. Brownish lacquer background; diaper pattern with swastika at center painted in red over top and panels; design of two dragons, clouds, rocks and waves on top of cover; prunus, camellias and ornamental rocks on panels; stylized floral scroll on borders; design is painted in red, black and brown; outlines are incised and filled with gold, much of which has worn off; base and interior of the box are red; close, regular pattern of cracks on interior and exterior. The box has deep, vertical cracks on all surfaces.

Label

During the 16th century, lacquer ware with "filled-in decoration" was popular. The term refers to two variant techniques used to create colorful designs. In the technique used here, known as "dry filled-in lacquer," the background lacquer is allowed to set firmly and then motifs are cut into it and filled with contrasting colors of lacquer. After drying and polishing, the motifs are embellished by incised outlines that are filled with gold to create a richly worked appearance for the surface of the object. 

The sides of this box have slightly recessed panels painted with designs of rocks and flowering plum and camellia blossoms. The top of the cover is decorated with a pair of five-clawed dragons symmetrically arrayed among clouds over chevronlike rocks and stylized waves, separated from the background diaper pattern by a foliate frame.

Published References
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 16, pp. 25-26.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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