Lacquer with inlay

Historical period(s)
Song dynasty, 13th century
Red lacquer on wood core with mother-of-pearl inlay and traces of gilding
H x W x D: 2.3 x 19.8 x 19.8 cm (7/8 x 7 13/16 x 7 13/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Lacquer, Vessel


bird, China, plum blossom, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), Yuan dynasty (1279 - 1368)
Provenance research underway.

Lacquer dishes with simple, elegant designs inlaid in mother-of-pearl are often difficult to date precisely. This dish was probably made in the fourteenth century, though the thirteenth century is another possibility. The visual power of the imagery depends, in part, on the iridescence and variety of colors of the mother-of-pearl. The design was probably based on an illustration published in a popular mid-thirteenth-century, woodblock-printed book with drawings of the life cycle of the plum tree.

The sawtooth design on the dish's sidewalls is unusual because the inlay appears near lines incised into the lacquer, which were once filled with gold. Usually these two techniques were not combined in a single piece.

Published References
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 94.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 169, pp. 258-259.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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