Rectangular box

DATE:
dated in inscription to 1595
MATERIAL AND TECHNIQUE:
Cinnabar lacquer over wood core
CLASSIFICATION:
Containers
DIMENSIONS:
Overall: 3 3/8 x 11 3/8 x 7 1/8 in. (8.573 x 28.893 x 18.098 cm)
DEPARTMENT:
Arts of Asia
LOCATION:
Arts of Asia - China, Level 3
CREDIT LINE:
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt
COPYRIGHT:
Image courtesy Dallas Museum of Art
OBJECT NUMBER:
1973.9.A-B

General Description

This box and cover exemplify the techniques achieved in producing deeply carved cinnabar lacquers at imperial studios in the latter part of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 CE). Lacquer artists placed a second color beneath the thick layer of red at predetermined locations; as they carved away the red, they exposed yellow or black sublayers, creating contrasting ground patterns behind the red lacquer motif. Here, symmetrically opposed imperial five-clawed dragons chase the flaming pearl of wisdom. Clouds surround the dragons, while waves crash against the rocks below. The main motif is bordered by enclosed panels of scrolling vines with blossoms on the sides of the cover and the lower part of the box.

During this time, imperial studios began inscribing the date of manufacture, with many examples from the last decades of the 16th century. The bottom of this box bears the inscription "Da Ming Wanli Yi Wei nian zhi" (Made in 1595 during the Wanli era of the Great Ming dynasty) incised with needle and inlaid with gold.

Adapted from

Label text, 2006.