Box in the Shape of Two Diamonds with Children Lacquer coating inlaid with lacquer and gold

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Box in the Shape of Two Diamonds with Children Lacquer coating inlaid with lacquer and gold

lacquer work / Ming Dynasty / China

「大明嘉靖年製」銘

Place of production:China

Ming dynasty, Jiajing era (1522–66)

Lacquer coating inlaid with lacquer and gold

1合

Inscriptions:「大明嘉靖年製」銘

This box was coated mainly with vermillion lacquer. The surface was also inlaid with lacquer in other colors to create scenes and patterns, while the outlines were carved with a chisel and inlaid with gold. During the Ming dynasty of China, lacquer artists began making multicolor works like this box.

When viewed from above, this box is shaped like two overlapping diamonds. This distinctive shape is meant to represent the concept of infinity. Meanwhile, children playing with tops are shown on the lid, a scene representing the desire for many happy and healthy descendants. All together, this auspicious design suggests a line of descendants continuing forever into the future.

An inscription on the bottom of this box indicates that it was created during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor of the Ming dynasty, in the mid-16th century. The Jiajing Emperor was the 12th ruler of his dynasty, and a great proponent of Daoism. This is why during the Jiajing era, uniquely shaped vessels with auspicious patterns derived from Daoism, as well as lacquerware with Daoist designs, were so popular. This box is one such masterpiece of Jiajing lacquerware.

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