LACQUER BOX AND COVER
EARLY 18TH CENTURY
9.5 cm wide
The cinnabar-red lacquer box is of lobed form, the straight sides intricately carved with a geometric design. The cover is decorated in three colours and carved in relief through the brown top layer with a fruiting branch suspending nine lychees. Each fruit is finely carved with a geometric pattern. The naturalistically rendered leaves are stained dark green. The flat base and the interior of the box and cover are lacquered black.
Boxes of the present type were often used as incense boxes and placed beside an incense burner and tool vase. The nine lychees depicted on the cover symbolise summer, marriage and fertility, while the auspicious number nine represents longevity and is traditionally associated with the emperor. A closely related box and cover is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, museum no. Circ.19-1912.