• Fine Chinese Ceramics and Work auction at Christies

    Sale 2297

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections

    26 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1193

    A CARVED THREE-COLOR LACQUER CIRCULAR 'CHUN' BOX AND COVER

    QIANLONG INSCRIBED SIX-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)

    Price Realised  

    A CARVED THREE-COLOR LACQUER CIRCULAR 'CHUN' BOX AND COVER
    QIANLONG INSCRIBED SIX-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795)
    The top deeply carved through the red, dark green and ochre layers with a chun (Spring) character incorporating a roundel of Shoulao and a deer flanked by dragons amidst clouds above multi-colored rays radiating from a basket of auspicious objects framed by flower sprays, the sides of the cover and box carved with panels of scholars and attendants separated by the bajixiang, the gilt-highlighted mark inscribed on the base
    12 5/8 in. (32 cm.) diam.


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    The motifs decorating this box and others like it are all very auspicious. The character chun (spring) on the cover is also a metaphor for youth. Combined with the overlaying roundel of Shoulao, the god of Longevity, the box would have represented wishes for eternal youth. These combined with the other imagery: the dragons amidst clouds, the rays rising from the bowl of 'treasures' and the Buddhist emblems arrayed around the sides also add to the auspicious nature of the box.

    Qing dynasty boxes of this design were inspired by Jiajing period examples (1522-1566) like the one included in the Hong Kong O.C.S exhibition, 2000 Years of Chinese Lacquer, Art Gallery, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 24 September - 21 November 1993, pp.120-1, no. 61. These boxes were so admired by the Qianlong Emperor that he ordered many copies during his reign, and they were frequently used to hold food presented as a ceremonial gift at the lunar new year or for birthdays.
    Similar boxes of this type are illustrated in Zhongguo qi qi quan ji (A Compendium of Chinese Lacquer), vol. 6: Qing Dynasty, Fuzhou, 1993, p. 182, pl. 213. The shape of the bowl on the cover, in particular, is very similar to that on another box of larger size (44 cm.) in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, illustrated by M. C. Beach, "The Freer Gallery of Art", Orientations, May 1993, p. 69, fig. 6. Another larger box (44.8 cm.) was included in the Special Exhibition of Covered Boxes from East Asia, Izumishi Kuboso Museum, Japan, 1984, p. 72, no. 110. Like the present box, all of the ones mentioned have similar figural panels around the sides.