• Important Chinese Lacquer from auction at Christies

    Sale 2730

    Important Chinese Lacquer from the Lee Family Collection

    1 December 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1837


    Price Realised  


    Of square section, the lipped-edge top panel is raised on high waist decorated with openwork ruyi-heads and set above a curvilinear apron, all supported on four tapering cabriole legs, each terminating with an upturned scroll foot, resting on a low waisted pedestal base; the upper surface of the stand is superbly inlaid with mother-of-pearl to finely render a terraced garden pavilion scene, detailed with a figure of Cao Cao offering the gift of his steed, Red Hare, to the seated Guan Yu, all enclosed within a diaper-border, the apron, legs and base richly decorated with flowers, birds and phoenixes
    18 1/2 x 16 1/4 x 20 3/4 in. (47 x 41.3 x 52.4 cm.), Japanese wood box

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    Cao Cao was a warlord and the penultimate Chancellor at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220). As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period (220-265), he laid the foundations for what was to become Cao Wei and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei. Although often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, Cao Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his officers like his family. Guan Yu was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei, and he played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the Eastern Han Dynasty and the establishment of the Kingdom of Shu, of which Liu Bei was the first emperor. There was a short period when Guan served under Cao. Cao treated him with respect and tried to convinced him to stay with gifts such as the famous steed Red Hare. Guan Yu is respected as the epitome of loyalty and righteousness.

    Tables and stands of this form have a long history in China, as has been noted by Laurence Sickman and discussed in 'Chinese Classic Furniture', Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, vol. 42, 1977-1978, pl. 9b with an illustration of a somewhat similarly shaped table or stand that was part of a group of miniature items of furniture excavated from a tomb at Huayansi, Datong, Shaanxi province, dated AD 1189). Compare with another taller example, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, May 27, 2008, lot 1924.


    Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, Vol. 5, Ming, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 1995, p. 211,no.194
    Zhongguo Qiqi Jinghua, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 2000, pl.229


    Tokyo National Museum, 1981, Chinese Mother-of-Pearl Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 46.
    The Shoto Museum of Art,Shibuya, Japan, 1991 Chinese Lacquerware, Catalogue, no. 111