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    Sale 2389

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    27 November 2007, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1667

    A VERY RARE IMPERIAL CARVED THREE-COLOUR LACQUER FLORAL-SHAPED BOX AND COVER

    Price Realised  

    A VERY RARE IMPERIAL CARVED THREE-COLOUR LACQUER FLORAL-SHAPED BOX AND COVER
    QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795)

    The top of the cover deeply and crisply carved through the outer cinnabar-red layer to the dark green and amber layers of lacquer to depict two Central Asian figures on a winding path, each wearing a pointed cap, a beard, a tunic tied at the waist and a voluminous cape, one carrying a ivory tusk, while the other points in the distance, their attendant pushes a wheel barrow filled with precious objects including coral, exotic feathers, and horns, these figures are closely followed by a caparisoned elephant with of twin tusks, carrying further treasures on his back including a vase containing a lingzhi, coins, feathers and coral branches, he is led by two 'foreign' grooms, with a further pair of boys carrying branches in the mid distance before city walls above which is visible the upper most portion of a minaret and a mosque, each full lobe on both the box and cover with a quatrefoil panel enclosing a formal peony sprig against an intricate archaistic dragon scroll, the dragon heads below the central medallion dividing each lobe, all reserved on a diaper-ground, the flared foot carved with stiff lotus lappets, the interior and base lacquered black
    11 1 4 in. (28.7 cm.) wide, Japanese wood box


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    It is extremely rare to find European and Central Asian subjects as the main decorative subject in lacquer wares, although a few related examples are known. A conjoined circular box in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, depicts a similarly dressed foreigner on horseback followed by his attendant, the lobed sides are carved with a very similar scroll and suggest that the box was made in the same workshop at the same period. The box bears a Qianlong six-character gilt mark and an inscription Shuang Lu Bao He, 'Doubly Auspicious Treasure Box ' and is illustrated in Gugong Qiqi Tezhan Mulu, A Special Exhibition of Lacquerwares in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1981, no. 68 and again in the special exhibition catalogue, Emperor Chien-lung's Grand Cultural Enterprise, Taipei, p. 56, pl. I-45. While another named box Long Feng Bao He, 'The Dragon and Phoenix Treasure Box' of similar form carved with a related subject is illustrated in Zhongguo Gudai Diaoqi Jindi Yishu Zhi Yanjiu, 'The Study of Ancient Chinese Brocade-Ground Carved Lacquer, p. 308. A third box of begonia form carved to the top with a standing European figure most probably holding peacock feathers and inscribed Zhi Yun Bao He, 'Precious Box of Zhi Yun, was sold Christie's Hong Kong, 29 April 2002, lot 576.

    It is interesting to note that in every example cited, including the present lot, the foreign figures are carrying precious objects and these probably represented tribute bearers from afar bringing gifts to the Qing court.

    Provenance

    The Kuraishi family collection, Kyushu, Japan