red with brown interior and bottom; carved with leaf and flower design around edges of box and cover; two figures on a balcony overlooking rocks, trees and clouds on cover; six characters lightly incised on bottom

Circular Box, 1403-1427

Unknown artist, expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

The court wares of the early fifteenth century are generally considered amongst the finest of all Chinese carved lacquer. This well-crafted circular box bears the six-character imperial reign mark of the Yongle (1403-1424) emperor on its base. Fine craftsmanship was always stressed in imperial ware. The base coatings alone could consist of over 100 layers of polished lacquer allowing for the deeply carved motifs with soft contours and rounded edges typical of the style. While boxes with landscapes are no finer than those carved entirely with floral decoration, there are fewer of them remaining and they were considerably more difficult to carve. Landscape scenes such as this were derived from the prestigious painted landscape tradition, a tradition where philosophical themes such as mankind's relationship to nature took precedence over the purely decorative motifs like flowers or geometric patterns.

Details
Title
Circular Box
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2007.40a,b
Curator Approved

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red with brown interior and bottom; carved with leaf and flower design around edges of box and cover; two figures on a balcony overlooking rocks, trees and clouds on cover; six characters lightly incised on bottom