Box with Camellias
Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)
Carved red lacquer
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm), Diam. 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Purchase, Barbara and Sorrell Mathes Gift, 2005
Small boxes of this type, which are preserved in Japan in some number, are often identified as incense boxes, for they were used as such during the tea ceremony. It seems likely that boxes of this type were also used in China to hold incense or other powdered substances such as cosmetics. The camellia spray on the cover is set against a plain background, a characteristic of early carved lacquers that would reemerge in the sixteenth century.