The function of the bowlstand is very similar to that of a saucer. As steaming bowls of tea had no handles, they were placed on stands when served, so as not to burn the fingers of the recipient, and also to provide a stable support for bowls which often have narrow bases. A related example of a plain brown lacquer bowlstand, supported on a slightly higher foot ring, excavated in the Yixing district, Jiangsu province, is illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji, vol. 8, Lacquerware, Wenwu chubanshe, 1989, no. 93. Also compare a similar black lacquer bowlstand with a bracket-lobed petal-form flange, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 29/30 April 2001, lot 628. A painting of The Eighteen Scholars of the Tang in the Palace Museum Taipei traditionally attributed to the Emperor Huizong illustrated in The National Palace Museum Painting Catalogue, Volume 15, pp. 351-358, depicts the use of black lacquer cupstands used in conjunction with what appear to be Jianyao teabowls to serve tea. This unusual form is derived from a shape much favoured by Song dynasty aesthetics as evidenced by ceramic examples such as the Ru ware cup-stand with bow-shaped petals, in the British Museum, illustrated by J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, 1992, p. 244, fig. 179, where the author stated that the lacquer version was marginally higher in status than Ru ware. This form also appeared in Qingbai wares and was depicted in a well-known late Song painting, Night Entertainment of Han Xizai, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated by Wu Hung, The Double Screen: Medium and Representation in Chinese Painting, p. 31, fig. 13. An example of this form of bowlstand appears as part of a table setting surrounded by gentlemen officials in a drinking scene. A lacquer bowlstand is also depicted on a wall painting from an 11th-12th century Liao dynasty tomb in Hebei province, showing the preparation and drinking of tea, illustrated by J. Rawson (ed.), ibid., 1992, fig. 154. A Yuan bracket-lobed black lacquer bowlstand of similar size and shape is in the collection of Los Angeles County Museum, illustrated in Hai-wai Yi-chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections: Lacquerware, Taibei, 1987, no. 24. A brown lacquer cupstand with bracket lobed rim dated to the Song period is illustrated by C. Shangraw, 'Chinese Lacquers in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco', Orientations, April, 1986, p. 28. The San Francisco example has slightly different proportions (18.4 cm. diam., and 8.4 cm. high), eight lobes and the bowl has an inverted rim.