This is the original box for the handscroll Portraits of the Qianlong Emperor and His Twelve Consorts, CMA 1969.31.
The elaborate design, superior craftsmanship, and inscription carved into the red cinnabar lacquer proclaim the imperial pedigree of this scroll box. On either end appears a five-clawed dragon, a design reserved only for an emperor. More dragons twist and wind through swirling clouds and waves along the length of the box’s sides and top. The carving is intricate and vigorous, while the design is controlled and regular. This box originally housed the handscroll, CMA 1969.31, private portraits of the Emperor Qianlong, his empress, and 11 other favorites among his presumed 40 or more wives during his 60-year reign.
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