Box with ivory inlay

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Yongle or Xuande reigns to Qing dynasty, early 15th century with 17th or 18th century alteration
Medium
Black lacquer with bone inlay, and carved red lacquer on wood core
Dimensions
H x W x D: 7.5 x 23.8 x 23.8 cm (2 15/16 x 9 3/8 x 9 3/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.393a-b
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Container, Lacquer
Type

Box

Keywords
boat, China, Daoist Immortals, horse, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), pavilion, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

As can be seen from the sides, this lacquer box was originally red. The carving style of the fourteenth
and early fifteenth centuries has a strong sculptural quality. The top of this box originally would have looked much like the sides, but it may once have been damaged, causing a later craftsman to repair it by applying layers of black lacquer. Another explanation is that after the fall of the Ming dynasty in 1644, red lacquer became less popular, so someone may have tried updating the box by adding the black lacquer. Whatever the reason, the additional work is unusual and reflects the trouble collectors would go to in order to preserve Yongle-era carved lacquer ware. The use of high-status ivory on the lid is a pairing of two luxury commodities—only the finest materials would have been acceptable to add to lacquer.



Published References
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 175.
  • , et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 179, p. 270.
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.