Jar with Dragon and Phoenix Design

Jar with Dragon and Phoenix Design


Carved lacquer in cinnabar and other colors

Overall: 11.8 cm (4 5/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1972.14



A phoenix and dragon alternating with two auspicious ornate characters—“fortune” 福(fu) and “longevity” 壽 (shou)—adorn this exquisitely carved lacquer jar. Similar to contemporary five-color (wucai) decoration on porcelain, this jar shows layers of lacquer in black, ochre, green, and cinnabar (red). In a time-consuming process, a multitude of lacquer coatings were applied to the wooden core before its design could be carved into the surface. The phoenix and dragon are imperial emblems suggesting that this jar was made for the court. The base of the jar is inscribed: “Made in the Jiajing-era of the Great Ming [dynasty].”

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