Lacquer tray

A pair of phoenixes with decorative tails in two styles fills the center of the carved red lacquer tray or dish. The red lacquer contrasts with a mustard-colored lacquer used close to the base of the carving. Flowers of the four seasons surround the phoenixes, which are supernatural birds that serve as emblems of peace, prosperity, and a just government. The flowers are comprised of camellia, an unidentified five-petaled flower that may be quince (these two represent winter and early spring); the peony for late spring, the lotus for summer; and the chrysanthemum for autumn. The flowers of the seasons do not follow a logical calendrical cycle since the summer lotus and winter camellia directly abutt each other, but seasonal symbolism may be intended.

Historical period(s)
Late Southern Song to early Yuan dynasty, late 13th-early 14th century
Medium
Carved red lacquer on wood core
Dimensions
H x W x D: 4.8 x 31.4 x 31.4 cm (1 7/8 x 12 3/8 x 12 3/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1987.396
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Container, Lacquer
Type

Dish

Keywords
autumn, camellia, China, chrysanthemum, lotus, peony, phoenix, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), WWII-era provenance, Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

A pair of phoenixes with decorative tails in two styles fills the center of the carved red lacquer tray or dish. The red lacquer contrasts with a mustard-colored lacquer used close to the base of the carving. Flowers of the four seasons surround the phoenixes, which are supernatural birds that serve as emblems of peace, prosperity, and a just government. The flowers are comprised of camellia, an unidentified five-petaled flower that may be quince (these two represent winter and early spring); the peony for late spring, the lotus for summer; and the chrysanthemum for autumn. The flowers of the seasons do not follow a logical calendrical cycle since the summer lotus and winter camellia directly abutt each other, but seasonal symbolism may be intended.

Label

A pair of phoenixes and the flowers of the four seasons are carved on this tray, or dish. The phoenix, a beautiful supernatural bird, is an emblem of peace, prosperity, and just government.

Published References
  • Yuka Kadoi. Islamic Chinoiserie: The Art of Mongol Iran. Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art Edinburgh. p. 55, fig. 2.12.
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 180.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 168, p. 257.
  • Linda Komaroff, Stephano Carboni. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256-1353. Exh. cat. New York and New Haven. cat. 203, p. 287, fig. 209.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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