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Circular Box with Decoration of Flower and Birds


China, 14th century
D.25.6 cm, H.11.0 cm

Using lacquer and mother-of-pearl, finely-done designs of birds and flowers have been applied to this box. A fine line-carving technique called "hair carving" (J.,kebori) has been performed to decorate the mother-of-pearl, and the outlines and rocks are executed in gold lacquer. Colored lacquer was used or the bamboo leaves and mossy earth. On the flat surface of the lid are foraging chickens and chicks, below which is shown a lotus pond inhabited by egrets, mandarin ducks, and other waterfowl. Still further below, on the side of the lid, is shown the underwater scene of the lotus pond, with fish, crab and aquatic plants. The utilization of the box's shape to reflect levels of the terrestrial world has been achieved in a very admirable manner. This work is a rare and fine example of Yuan dynasty lacquerware, outstanding not only for the quality(1260-1368) of its materials, design and execution, but for its splendid state of preservation.

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