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Octagonal Dish with Flowering Plum and Birds

Period:
Yuan (1271–1368)–early Ming (1368–1644) dynasty
Date:
14th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay
Dimensions:
H. 1/8 in. (.3 cm); Diam.11 5/8 in. (29.5 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in honor of James C. Y. Watt, 2011
Accession Number:
2011.120.2
  • Description

    Flowering plums and birds of various species, a popular theme in the painting of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279), persisted for centuries as a motif in lacquer, particularly works inlaid with pearl shell. The style of Southern Song painting, which balances a delicate composition against empty space, is also reflected often in lacquers. Here, the depictions of the plum blossoms range from buds to blooms and derive from the influential Meihua Xishen pu (Manual of Plum Blossom Likeness), written by the artist Song Boren in the mid-thirteenth century. The manual discusses and illustrates the various stages in the life of a plum blossom.

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