Surviving examples of early lacquer furniture such as the present lot are very rare, primarily due to the fragility of the materials used, as many early examples employed softwood frames which are more subject to breakage. When published by Lee in 1972, the present table was dated Tang dynasty, eighth century, perhaps due to stylistic similarities to other early known examples. See a detail from the Five Dynasties painting entitled 'The Reading Lesson,' attributed to Huang Quan (903-965), included in the Special Exhibition of Furniture in Paintings, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1996, pl. III, where a scholar and his attendant are seated beside low tables with numerous legs joined by base stretchers. (Fig. 1) However, examples of this form can be seen as early as the Han dynasty, as evidenced by a tall carved lacquer armrest dated to the Warring States period, excavated from Xinyang district in Henan, illustrated in Arts of China: Neolithic Cultures to the T'ang Dynasty, Tokyo, 1968, p. 58, nos. 103-4. It is interesting to note that the excavated armrest is also raised on four legs on either side and its height (48 cm.) is very similar to that of the present lot, leaving the possibility that the present table may have also been used as an armrest.
The results of three radiocarbon analyses performed on the present table place the date of the wood between 1037-1268, and the lacquer between 1320-1423. While the table may therefore be of earlier date than the lacquer, the latest its date of construction can be is early 14th century-early 15th century.