black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay; Kang-Shi Period

Tray, late 17th century

Unknown artist, expand_more

The technique of inlaying lacquer with mother-of-pearl dates from the Shang dynasty (1200s-900s BCE) and later hundreds of tiny pieces of thin shell were combined to create complicated pictorial scenes like the landscape illustrated here. The technique remained popular through the 1700s and was adopted outside of China by craftsmen on the Ryuku Islands (Okinawa) where native shells were particularly beautiful.

Accession Number
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black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay; Kang-Shi Period