Box with “Peach Blossom Grotto”
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay
H. 3 in. (7.6 cm); W. 9 in. (22.9 cm); L. 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 2006
Not on view
Three Chinese characters incised on a rectangular piece of pearl shell at the upper left identify the scene on the lid of this box as the “peach blossom grotto” (tao yu dong). The phrase refers to a famous poem by Tao Qian (365–427) that describes the travels of a fisherman who enters such a grotto and stumbles upon a paradisiacal Shangri-La. As is invariably the case with such magical realms,
he is never able to return once he leaves.