Chinese “Cinnabar” Lacquer Box & Cover



A good quality and deeply carved Chinese circular “Cinnabar” lacquer** box and cover in excellent original condition.  Decorated with stylised 3-claw dragons among swirling clouds to the lid and sides, it features an incised 6-character mark to the inside of the base, and a four-character mark to the lid.


** Lacquerware describes objects, usually wood or metal, that have been coated with multiple layers of lacquer obtained from a type of Sumac tree native to China, whilst “Cinnabar” refers to the red colour.  Usually 30 or so thin coats were applied to the base object, and allowed to dry between each coat, but some are known to have up to 200 coats!  The process of carving away the lacquer to produce the decoration was an exquisite art.  The depth of carving in this box indicates a very high number of coats were applied before the carving took place.  Examples go back to prehistoric times, whilst some superb examples were made during the Ming dynasty (1522-1566) and it is still produced today.


Date: Tentatively 19th century, but could be much earlier.

Dimensions: 6.5ins (16.5cms) diameter; 2.5ins (6.4cms) high.

Stock No. 5041/k