Tiered Box with Figural Scene, Flowers, and Birds
Yuan (1271–1368)–early Ming (1368–1644) dynasty
late 14th–early 15th century
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay
H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); W. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); D. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm)
Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving
Not on view
The density of the composition on the lid of this box is typical of works of the late fourteenth to early fifteenth century. Representations of two girls peeking into a rustic scene (populated here by three women and two dogs) are found in at least two other works of the same period. It seems likely that the unidentified scenes illustrate a well-known moment from a literary work or play. Each panel and column of the architecture is decorated with a separate pattern, attesting to the painstaking craftsmanship involved. The sixteen cartouches on the sides contain bird-and-flower scenes.