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    Sale 2611

    Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    27 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1930

    A VERY RARE TIXI RECTANGULAR BOX AND COVER

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A VERY RARE TIXI RECTANGULAR BOX AND COVER
    YUAN DYNASTY (1279-1368)

    Of elongated rectangular shape, the box and cover are well carved in tixi style with elegant classic ruyi motifs through alternating layers of dark brown and red lacquer extending to the integral stand, supported on six 'C'-curve short legs and connected by the beaded curvilinear aprons, the interior lacquered dark brown 13. 6/8 in. (35 cm.), Japanese wood box


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    The rare curvilinear apron and 'C'-curve feet seen on the current box derive from early the platform construction bed in use during the Tang dynasty. Such pronounced curvilinear aprons are rarely found on Chinese lacquer but can be seen on a few published examples. Compare the apron on the stand of a Yuan carved black lacquer bowl illustrated by Lee Yu-kuan, Oriental Lacquer Art, New York, 1972, p. 129, no. 63. A related black lacquer scroll box and cover dated to the Song dynasty with a slightly less pronounced apron and without the 'c'-curve feet is illustrated ibid, p. 119, no. 54. In both the Yuan box and the current example the curved apron and scroll feet echo and complement the ruyi decoration in a very pleasing way.

    Rectangular forms are especially rare in tixi or guri lacquer, but have been found in excavations. A rectangular panel decorated with black tixi with red under layers, similar to the current example, was discovered in the cargo of a ship, which foundered off the Sinan coast of Korea in A.D. 1323, illustrated in Relics Salvaged from the Seabed off Sinan: Materials III, Seoul, 1985, pl. 134.

    A rectangular black tixi lacquer box of slightly different (13.4 x 11.1 x 8.5 cm.) and a different arrangement of scrolls, dated to the early Ming dynasty was exhibited in Osaka in 1991, illustrated by Hirano Kotoken, Chinese Lacquer Works, Osaka, pp. 74-5, no. 48. A rectangular red lacquer box (20 x 11.8 x 6 cm.) dated to the Yuan dynasty is now in the Metropolitan Museum, illustrated by J. Watt and B. Ford, East Asian Lacquer: The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992, p. 49-50, no. 6. This box shares with the current example the design element of ruyi motifs which wrap around the corners of the form. This risky style of decoration required great skill and confidence, and was abandoned by later decorators, as can be seen on the Ming rectangular box in the Metropolitan Museum, illustrated ibid., p. 61, no. 15, which has a design element on either side of each corner, but leaves the corner edge plain.

    Provenance

    A Japanese private collection inventorised in 1939.