Carved lacquer food box with scene of the Moon Palace

Artist: Wang Ming (late 15th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Hongzhi reign, 1488-1505
Carved black and red lacquer (tihei) on wood core
H x Diam: 17.3 x 32.2 cm (6 13/16 x 12 11/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer


bell, Chang'e, China, Daoism, festival, flower, food, Hongzhi reign (1488 - 1505), immortality, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), pavilion, phoenix, pipa, qin, rabbit, toad
Provenance research underway.

The box depicts a scene of the Moon Palace and its denizens gathered together for a festive occasion. Three main characters include the female immortal Chang'e, who stands at the top of the palace stairs with entertainers gathered around her in the courtyard. Nearby are two other well-known inhabitants of the moon: a rabbit, who stands upright on a table mixing the magic elixir of immortality, and on the left edge of the box, a three-legged toad appears at the base of a tree. This box belongs to a small group of lacquer wares that are signed by the artisan, Wang Ming, whose signature is incised on one of the columns of the Moon Palace. Figures and floral bands decorate the sides of the box.

Published References
  • Sir John Figgess. Ming and Pre-Ming Lacquer in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. vol. 37 London, 1967-1969. pl. 54a.
  • Michael Hughes. An Important Collection of Chinese, Korean, and Ryukyuan Lacquer. New York, Spring 2006. .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 131, vol. 1: p. 179.
  • The Important Collection of Chinese Ceramics, Lacquer, Cloisonne Enamel., July 2, 1968. cat. 67, p. 33.
  • Harry Mason Garner. Two Chinese Carved Lacquer Boxes of Fifteenth Century in The Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 9 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 41-50.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 60.
  • Jean-Pierre Dubosc. A Rare Example of Late Fifteenth-Century Carved Lacquer in an English Private Collection. London, June 1966. pp. 78-81.
  • Derek Clifford. Chinese Carved Lacquer. London. pp. 86-87, pl. 59.
  • Choshitsu: Urushi no rerifu. Nagoya and Tokyo. p. 160.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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