Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, late 14th-early 15th century
Carved marbled black and red lacquer (tixi) on wood core
H x W x D: 6.3 x 19.8 x 19.8 cm (2 1/2 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

Bowl stand

China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)
Provenance research underway.

Lacquer stands like this were used to hold ceramic drinking bowls for hot liquids such as tea. The natural insulating properties of lacquered wood made it particularly suitable for this purpose, while at the same time the lacquer itself remained cool to the touch. According to some sources, it was the stand that was picked up when bringing a bowl to one's lips.

The abstract design is said to resemble the shape of ancient Chinese sword pommels. The deep carving is confined to the lacquer surface and does not touch the wooden substrate. The lacquer surface is built up of many layers, possibly more than one hundred individually applied coats. To create a vibrant effect, two colors of lacquer were used, layers of red sandwiched between the black. By cutting into the surface, the red was revealed. After the design was carved, another specialist was in charge of polishing the piece to make the surface lustrous.

Published References
  • Xi Mengcao. Haiwai guizhen teji: Zhongguo qiqi [Chinese Treasures Overseas, a special collection at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery]. no. 71, July 1991. pp. 76-81.
  • Lee Yu-kuan. Oriental Lacquer Art., 1st ed. New York. p. 132.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 175, p. 266.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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