Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, late 14th-early 15th century
Medium
Carved marbled black and red lacquer (tixi) on wood core
Dimensions
H x W x D: 6.3 x 19.8 x 19.8 cm (2 1/2 x 7 13/16 x 7 13/16 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.382
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Lacquer
Type

Bowl stand

Keywords
China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Lacquer stands like this were used to hold ceramic drinking bowls for hot liquids such as tea. The natural insulating properties of lacquered wood made it particularly suitable for this purpose, while at the same time the lacquer itself remained cool to the touch. According to some sources, it was the stand that was picked up when bringing a bowl to one's lips.

The abstract design is said to resemble the shape of ancient Chinese sword pommels. The deep carving is confined to the lacquer surface and does not touch the wooden substrate. The lacquer surface is built up of many layers, possibly more than one hundred individually applied coats. To create a vibrant effect, two colors of lacquer were used, layers of red sandwiched between the black. By cutting into the surface, the red was revealed. After the design was carved, another specialist was in charge of polishing the piece to make the surface lustrous.


Published References
  • Xi Mengcao. Haiwai guizhen teji: Zhongguo qiqi [Chinese Treasures Overseas, a special collection at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery]. no. 71, July 1991. pp. 76-81.
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 132.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 175, p. 266.
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.