Previously sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, The Frederick Knight Collection, Important Chinese Ceramics and Lacquer, 18 May 1982, lot 46.
An identical Jiajing-marked polychrome lacquer zhadou carved with the same decoration in the Hosokawa Collection is illustrated by H. Garner, Chinese Lacquer, pl. 77. One of the earliest zhadou lacquer vessels is dated to the Yuan dynasty, illustrated in Lacquers of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2006, p. 4, no. 2. The Palace Museum zhadou bears the signature of the famous lacquer craftsman, Yang Mao; the exterior is carved with a composite floral scroll and the everted mouth rim is also decorated with a floral pattern (fig. 1). During the Yongle period, the floral carvings are finely rendered and are closely related to the floral patterns on contemporaneous boxes, see ibid., p. 42, p. 26 (fig. 2).
The present zhadou and the one from the Hosokawa collection, both share decorative motifs that are closely related to ceramics of the Jaijing period, and in particular its preceding Zhengde reign (1506-1521). Compare the striding dragons on a Zhengde-marked yellow-ground green enamelled zhadou, illustrated in Chinese Porcelain - The S.C. Ko Tianminlou Collection, Part I, 1987, no. 68 (fig. 3); and the longtailed phoenix in flight on a Jiajing-marked square bowl in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Enamelled Ware of the Ming Dynasty, Book II, CAFA, 1966, pl. 6b.
Compare with other Jiajing period polychrome lacquer vessels where the different layers of lacquer colours have been expertly carved to enhance the overall design. The first example is a square 'dragon' vessel in the National Museums of Scotland collection, illustrated by Hu Shih-chang, Chinese Lacquer, p. 44, no. 19. Another example is a 'dragon and phoenix' circular box in the Beijing Palace Museum, illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures from the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, p. 175, no. 133 (illustrated on p. 138 of the present catalogue); and a 'dragon and phoenix' bowl inscribed with the characters, Wanshou Changchun, formerly in the collection of the late King Gustav of Sweden, illustrated by J. Wirgan, The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Bulletin no. 44, 1972, pls. 32 & 33.