Foliated tray with dragons and seven Chinese characters

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign, 1522-1566
Carved black and red lacquer on wood core
H x W x D: 5 x 39.8 x 39.8 cm (1 15/16 x 15 11/16 x 15 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Jun Tsei Tai
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Lacquer, Vessel


China, dragon, Jiajing reign (1522 - 1566), lettering, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Made for the imperial court, this tray is decorated with elements that underscore the legitimacy and righteous rule of the sovereign. A dragon, symbolizing the emperor, holds aloft the Chinese word sheng (imperial majesty). Smaller words on either side of this character mean "assist," referring to the ministers of state. Four other words appear at the cardinal points of the tray and proclaim "eternal good fortune and reward," blessings that emanate from the rule of a just emperor.

Published References
  • Jan Stuart. From the Collection: Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Calendar. Washington, January/February 1992. .
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.