Covered box with design of paired phoenixes

Historical period(s)
Southern Song dynasty, 12th-13th century
Porcelain with transparent pale-blue (qingbai) glaze
Qingbai ware
H x Diam (overall): 3.7 x 9.5 cm (1 7/16 x 3 3/4 in)
China, Jiangxi province, Jingdezhen
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Container


China, phoenix, porcelain, Qingbai ware, Song dynasty (960 - 1279), Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279)

To 1929
Yamanaka & Co., Washington, DC [1]

From 1929
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Yamanaka & Co., Washington, DC in April 1929 [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Yamanaka and Co. 1917-1965


During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, kilns at Jingdezhen produced large quantities of covered boxes for sale in China and Southeast Asia. The boxes, which functioned as cosmetic containers, usually bear a molded bird or floral design.  The lid of this box is decorated with a relief design of two phoenixes flying toward each other. Their heads nearly touch at the center of the box and their resplendent, curled tail feathers spread out along the rim of the lid.  A pair of phoenixes is a common marriage symbol, and boxes like this may have been used as wedding gifts.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 49.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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