Box for Storing Monk's Robes

Box for Storing Monk's Robes



Lacquered wood with mother-of-pearl inlay

Overall: 43 x 56 x 54.7 cm (16 15/16 x 22 1/16 x 21 9/16 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1975.10



This precious lacquer box is decorated with bird and plant motifs and figures in mother-of-pearl inlay. The decoration does not relate to Buddhism, but depicts the leisurely pursuit of scholars in nature and a garden setting. Scholars play the board game weiqi, have philosophical conversations, pluck a qin (a zither-like instrument with strings), and read books.

Lacquer chests of this type stored garments and this particular one may have been presented to a priest, abbot, or monk of a monastery by a wealthy patron. This explains the secular subject matter and luxurious decoration. The mother-of-pearl inlay technique was typically practiced in Hangzhou city and other parts of southeast China.

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