Foliated square dish with peonies

Historical period(s)
Probably early Ming dynasty, late 14th century
Carved red lacquer on wood core
H x W x D: 2.8 x 19.8 x 19.6 cm (1 1/8 x 7 13/16 x 7 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Lacquer, Vessel


China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), peony
Provenance research underway.

This dish displays masterful lacquer carving in a design executed on two spatial levels. The repeated use of overlapping elements and the ribbed rim of the dish suggest its manufacture in the second half of the fourteenth century, but because this style spans the transition between the Yuan (1279-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, the precise date of the carving is difficult to ascertain.

The classic scroll pattern on the underside of the dish is a typical Yuan dynasty feature, but the exceptionally dense peony design fits comfortably with early-Ming lacquer wares. An unusual note of naturalism in the image is the arrangement of the many peony blossoms that appear to branch out from a thick, woody stem of the tree-peony plant rooted at the bottom edge of the dish.

Published References
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 136.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 172, p. 263.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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