Lozenge-Shaped Dish with Figures in a Landscape
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
late 16th–17th century
Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay and gold and silver foil
H. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm); W. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); L. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm)
Promised Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving
Not on view
The use of extremely thin pieces of pearl shell in combination with gold and silver foil began in the second half of the sixteenth century and continued until the eighteenth. The theme of literati gentlemen enjoying a garden was popular in the late Ming dynasty, and stock groups of figures, such as those seated in a pavilion, appeared in varying combinations; the figures themselves probably derived from woodblock prints. Gathered here are musicians playing a mouth organ (sheng), a zither (also called a (sheng but written with a different Chinese character), and possibly clappers. One of the young attendants walking in the garden carries another type of zither (called a qin), suggesting that the two gentlemen attended by the boys will be joining their fellow musicians in the pavilion.