Jun 17, 2020
Mar 3, 2014
Jun 17, 2020

Round Box with Decoration of Two Pheasants and Peonies

Round Box with Decoration of Two Pheasants and Peonies

late 1200s

Part of a set. See all set records

Carved lacquer

Overall: 21 x 40.6 cm (8 1/4 x 16 in.); Lid: 8.5 x 40.6 cm (3 3/8 x 16 in.); Bottom: 12.5 x 40.6 cm (4 15/16 x 16 in.)

Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 2011.34


Did you know?

The footring is carved with a band of continuous key-fret, above which is another band of spiral scroll pattern.


This box is among the extremely rare and precious carved lacquer ware from the Song and early Yuan period and is arguably one of the most monumental and significant examples of the type. It exhibits extremely fine craftsmanship. To allow for the depth of carving, numerous layers of different colored lacquer were applied to a core of wood strengthened by a fabric covering impregnated with lacquer. Each layer was allowed to set before the next was applied, taking a long time to construct the lacquered body before the carving could begin.

Carved on top with two birds in flight against a floral ground and a band of spiral scrolls, it is a bold manifestation of the naturalistic and abstract approaches to carved lacquer decoration. The lively depiction of the subjects combined with the sinuous scrolls expresses the flux and freedom of nature.

Lacquer ware was always a valuable product in Chinese material culture and was often used as precious gifts in diplomatic, religious, and economic exchanges with other countries—Japan, for example, where this box was long preserved and acquired.


Carved Lacquer
How Was This Made?
See also
Chinese Art
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.