Dish with Long-tailed Birds and Hollyhock
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Carved red lacquer
H. 1/8 in. (0.3 cm); Diam. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in honor of James C. Y. Watt, 2011
Several features help date this beautifully carved dish to the fourteenth century. The birds at center fly playfully around one another while also fitting into the circular shape. The lush blossoms of the hollyhock, shown from varying perspectives, have petals of different sizes that often overlap and provide further depth to the composition. The long, narrow leaves fill at least three layers of carving, adding to the richness of the surface of this dish, which retains the unadorned background often found in carved lacquers of the thirteenth century.