LACQUER BOX AND COVER
8.1 cm diameter
The cinnabar-red lacquer box is of circular form with straight sides. The cover is carved in relief with a scholar in a mountainous landscape accompanied by two attendants, one carrying an umbrella, the other a qin, all against a diaper ground. The base and the sides of the box are naturalistically carved with leafy flower branches against a repeated diaper ground. The interior of the box and cover are lacquered black.
Lacquer boxes of this type were often used as incense containers, usually placed beside an incense burner and tool vase. A number of existing boxes, including the present example, are finely carved on the base, allowing the object to be admired from each angle. Figural decorations are unusual on boxes of this shape and size, as opposed to the more common design of lychee fruit.
A closely related box carved with two figures in a similar landscape was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, April 2017, lot 3656. It is interesting to note that the present box is quite heavy for its size. For a heavy box of similar type decorated with lychees, see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, East Asian Lacquer - The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, New York, 1991, pl.40, where James C.Y. Watt notes that boxes with such weight possibly have metal substrates.