Tiered Box with Figures and Dragons amid Clouds
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
late 14th century
Carved black lacquer on gilded ground
H. 5 1/8 in. (13 cm); Diam. 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm)
Lent by Florence and Herbert Irving
Not on view
The decoration on the top and sides of this box was once set against a background of gold leaf; it is likely that other works that now appear plain were also similarly decorated at one time. The scene on the top shows an official, identified by the rank badge on his back, bowing before an incense burner. He is likely praying to heaven, a traditional Chinese practice. The dragons on the side have the short faces and salamander-like bodies often found in the arts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.