Incense Box with Dragon Design

Incense Box with Dragon Design

용무늬 화각함 (龍文華角函)

1600s-1700s

Painted wood with flattened ox-horn inlay

Diameter: 7.2 cm (2 13/16 in.); Overall: 3.6 cm (1 7/16 in.)

Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1988.54

Location

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This box is made of small flattened pieces of oxhorn. Since oxhorn is rather small, possibly dozens of them were used to fully decorate even a small wooden object like this box.

Description

This incense box is colorfully decorated with the technique of oxhorn plating. The oxhorn was cut, soaked in water, boiled, and then pressed into thin translucent sheets. Since oxhorns are usually rather small, dozens of them were required to fully decorate even a small wooden object. The lid of this container is colorfully illustrated with the imagery of a dragon amid clouds deemed as an auspicious symbol, and its side presents flying dragon and phoenix following one after another.

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