16 September 2016
A MINIATURE HUANGHUALI TWO-TIERED PICNIC BOX, TIHE
The box is comprised of a cover and two deep trays set on a base frame from which rises the rectangular handle flanked on the sides by standing spandrels. The handle and frame are reinforced with metal mounts.
5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm.) high, 7 1/16 in. (18 cm.) wide, 4 ½ in. (11.5 cm.) deep
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MD Flacks Ltd, Classical Chinese Furniture I, New York, Spring 1997, p. 31, no. 16.
This picnic box is of a classic form which has been interpreted in a rare small size. The cover and trays have delicately beaded edges, and the huanghuali has an excellent patina and grain with a number of “ghost eyes” visible in the top panel of the cover.
The shape of tiered picnic boxes has remained unchanged since the Song dynasty (AD 960-1279) when they were larger and more likely to have been made of bamboo or soft woods and used to transport food and wine. By the Ming dynasty (1308-1644) they were of smaller size and made of valuable hardwoods such as huanghuali and zitan. The shape was also found to be useful for storing or carrying small precious objects, which was most likely the function of the present box.
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