Unknown13th Century

Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art

The slightly domed lid of this shallow bowl is densely carved with two parakeets flying amongst flowering camellias, gardenias, and chrysanthemums. The box is embellished with a single flower each of tree peony, gardenia, camellia, and prunus all carved down to a buff ochre ground. The interior is of brown lacquer. One of the most important technical innovations of Southern Sung was lacquer carved with pictorial designs. As is typical of this earliest stage, the surface is relatively two-dimensional; there is virtually no overlapping of forms; the contours are cut at an angle with little rounding of edges; and there is no relief carving or incising to indicate texture or depth. By the fourteenth century, artists had mastered pictorial devices like foreshortening, overlapping, and fine incisions to create pictorial images that are more three-dimensional and naturalistic. This cosmetic or incense box is an early example of a style of carved lacquer featuring a "two-bird" and flower motif in the main register. This basic motif remained popular for over a century into early Ming. Large numbers of covered porcelain boxes of this general shape and size were made during Southern Sung and Yuan and shipped throughout Southeast Asia.

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  • Title: Box
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 13th Century
  • origin: China
  • Physical Dimensions: w6.5 x h1.75 x d6.5 in
  • Measurements: 1 3/4 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (4.4 x 16.5 x 16.5 cm)
  • Type: Lacquer
  • Rights: Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, http://www.artsmia.org/index.php?section_id=7
  • External Link: Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis, MN, USA)
  • Medium: Carved red and yellow lacquer (t'i hung)