Small lobed cinnabar lacquer tray


Ming Dynasty, early 16th century, China

明 16世紀早期 中國

Diameter: 19.5 cm, 7.7 inches


The twelve sided foliated rim and gently curving sides rest on a similarly shaped raised foot rim with a recessed flat base and a thick wood core. The rim is carved with a narrow diaper – in the style of some Yuan lacquers – the interior sides sparsely decorated with flowers and leaves, against a diamond floral diaper. The tray’s flat bottom depicts a figurative scene of a scholar accompanied by five attendants – all seated on the floor of a rocky outcrop amongst acer and pine trees; the earth and sky are composed of two diaper grounds. The exterior sides are decorated with a denser floral border depicting flowers of the four seasons, and the base is lacquered in a plain brown with crackleur.

Although there are no marked Zhengde lacquer wares, there exists an early 16th century group – falling between the palatial landscapes of Hongzhi and the symbols of Jiajing – to which this tray belongs. They exhibit quite distinctive features: the specific representation of pine clusters – the needles curving around in a clockwise direction; and the depiction of hands – normally concealed in fifteenth and sixteenth century lacquers.

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