Charger with dragons and flaming Jewel

DATE:
18th century
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Lacquer, mother-of-pearl, inlaid
CLASSIFICATION:
Containers
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 27 x 2 1/2 in. (68.58 x 6.35 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
Not On View
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, The Roberta Coke Camp Fund
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1989.140

General Description

The Ryukyu Island chain in the East China Sea follows the curve of the Chinese coast from Taiwan to Japan's southernmost island, Kyushu. Throughout their history the islands were subject to influences from both China and Japan, and in 1609 Japan annexed their territory. After the demise of its native monarchy in 1872, the islands became known as Japan's Okinawa Prefecture. The development of Ryukyu lacquerware began in earnest in the fifteenth century under Chinese guidance and flourished through the eighteenth century. This spectacular charger is from one of several lacquer sets commissioned by the Ryukyu kings as presentation pieces for the Chinese Qing dynasty court. A contemporary record describes sets of thirty plates and thirty bowls decorated with a design of the five-clawed Chinese dragon chasing a flaming jewel which were sent to China in 1725, 1740, and 1788. The position of the Ryukyu Islands in warm tropical waters assured an abundance of shell for inlaid decoration. This charger is not only exceptionally large, but the shell dragons and geometric patterns are thinly cut, precisely executed, and beautifully preserved, retaining their sparkle and lush pink, blue, and green colors. Such superior craftsmanship and delicacy of ornamental design elevated mother-of-pearl inlay to the most distinctive lacquer form of the Ryukyu Islands. "Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection," page 46