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Asian Art
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Octagonal Box

ca. 1571

Carved red lacquer with gold and silver pigment

10 × 11 in. (25.4 × 27.9 cm)
Anonymous Gift
1947.174a-b
On the lid of this finely carved box are eight flying cranes and two peaches, both symbols of immortality, surrounded by a border of dragons and flowers. In each of the sixteen trapezoidal panels there is a combination of bird and intricately twined floral motifs. The background of these panels is painted in gold and outlined in silver, both of which were probably added at a later date. The footrim panels consist of mythical animals and horses flying over waves amid scrolled clouds. Octagonal boxes with high, domed-shaped lids such as this one were usually fitted with a tray for a set of cups. The themes of immortality make the piece a most suitable container for serving wine at birthday banquets. The box bears an inscription on the base stating that it was acquired by Jiang Xiazhang in the fifth year of the Longqing reign (1571).
Geography: 
China
Status: 
Not on view
Culture: 
Chinese
Period: 
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Classification: 
Containers - Lacquer
Provenance: 

Chang (Zhang) family, Chiang Hsia (Jiangxia), Hupeh (Hubei) province; William Oastler Collection; Aug 12, 1900 auction at American Art Galleries, New York; private donor bought it at auction on April 12, 1900, New York; gift in 1947 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 286, ill.

David Ake Sensabaugh, The Scholar as Collector: Chinese Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 22–23, 44, no. 37, fig. 15.

Sadako Ohki and Takeshi Watanabe, Tea Culture of Japan (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2009), 87, no. 21, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.