Box with scene depicting the Tengwang Pavilion

Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, Hongzhi reign, 1488-1505
Carved red lacquer on wood core
H x W x D: 10.9 x 46.1 x 36.1 cm (4 5/16 x 18 1/8 x 14 3/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Container, Lacquer


China, Hongzhi reign (1488 - 1505), landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), pavilion
Provenance research underway.

The artisan carved through some two hundred coats of lacquer to render this majestic pavilion in striking relief on the lid of the box. Lacquer is the relined sap of the rhus verniciflua tree, and it can be colored red by mixing the mineral cinnabar into the lacquer in its raw state.

The building depicted on the lid is the Tengwang Ge, or the Pavilion of Prince Teng, built in the Tang dynasty (618-907) on top of a city wall no longer extant in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. The pavilion was a frequently depicted subject on Ming dynasty lacquer wares. Prince Teng, who was the son of the first emperor of the Tang dynasty, served as a military governor in Jiangxi, and his exceptionally grand pavilion was immortalized in poetry. Later generations continued to use the building for celebrations, including for a nine-day feast to which many famous guests were invited, which is the scene on this box lid. The guests included a Buddhist monk, who is depicted with his bare head tilted and his arm raised.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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