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tricolour cinnabar lacquer box and cover


Core Record

Title tricolour cinnabar lacquer box and cover
Collection Artworld: Oriental Museum
Date 1736 - 1795 CE
Description Elaborately carved peach-shaped box with cover. Carved from red, green and yellow lacquer applied to a wooden core.
The centre of the cover is carved with a large chun, the Chinese character for Spring, in the centre of which is a circle containing a depiction of Shoulao, the god of longevity, seated below a pine tree. On either side of the chun is a dragon in clouds and below is a decorated bowl containing symbols of longevity and good fortune, with rays emanating from the bowl. The central panel has a finely carved background of small diapers that were typical of the Qing dynasty. Surrounding the central panel is a narrow floral scroll border and a wider border of entwined peach blossom and peaches. The peaches are decorated with finely carved diapers. The border of flowers and peaches is repeated on the sides of the lower section of the box. The base and interior of the box are painted in plain black lacquer.
There are signs of some slight damage around the rim of the box and around the edges of the central panel. The lacquer is worn in places on the base.
Cultural Context Chinese
Id Number Current Accession 1969.474
Location Creation Site Zhonghua
Location Current Repository The Oriental Museum
Subject furniture, box/chest/casket
Measurements 397 x 159 x 400 mm
Context The motifs suggest that the box was ordered by the imperial palace and may have been made in the palace workshops in Beijing.

A lacquer carving is made by applying many layers of lacquer to a base of another material, usually wood, to create an impermeable and durable surface. The lacquer is then carved through the layers to create patterns or scenes. In this example, the lacquer has been carved to reveal the layers of green and yellow lacquer that were applied prior to the outer red layers. Lacquer is made from the sap of a tree indigenous to China and Japan called Rhus verniciflua and has been used in China since the Neolithic period. Lacquer was coloured by adding coloured pigments to the lacquer; for example, cinnabar was largely used to create red lacquer.
Context Source Rawson, J. (ed.) 1992. The British Museum Book of Chinese Art. London: Published by the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Press, p. 174-179, 360.
Rights Oriental Museum, University of Durham, Durham, 2002. All Rights reserved
Rights Owner OM
Style Period Qing Dynasty, Qianlong
Work Type box
 
 

 

 

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