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Lacquer dish
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This dish is one of the earliest known examples of polychrome lacquer carved with a pictorial scene. By the time of its manufacture, the art of carving such scenes was being perfected, and these beautifully executed pieces were often made to imperial order.

The scene shows a famous fourth-century drinking and poetry party at the lanting (Orchid Pavilion) in the Chinese province of Zhejiang. The event has been the subject of countless Chinese paintings and poems. In this depiction, the sky is full of clouds and cranes, birds symbolic of immortality. The party arriving in the foreground is accompanied by deer, also associated with immortality, and the Islands of the Immortals rise out of the waves around the border of the dish. The carver has signed his name and the date around the door of the pavilion. On the back is a verse by the Tang dynasty poet, Wang Bo (650-675).

Lacquer dish

Possibly Gansu province, western China, Ming dynasty, dated ad 1489
D. 19 cm.

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