Tray with dragon and Chinese characters, Carved red lacquer, China

明嘉靖 剔紅雲龍捧聖紋漆盤
Tray with dragon and Chinese characters

Period:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Jiajing period (1522–66)
Date:
1522–1566
Culture:
China
Medium:
Carved red lacquer
Dimensions:
H. 2 in. (5.1 cm); Diam. 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm)
Classification:
Lacquer
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 2015
Accession Number:
2015.500.1.39
Not on view
This tray is one of the finest products of the official workshops of the Jiajing era. It was probably made in the early part of the reign before Daoist imagery began to dominate at court. The dragon in the center holds up the Chinese character sheng, which means “divine” or “imperial majesty.” The characters above it (fu on the right and bi on the left) generally signify “to add” or “to support.” While they can be used to refer to the emperor’s chief ministers, in this case they may refer to the dragon, a well-known symbol of imperial authority.
[ Klaus F. Naumann , Tokyo, until 1989; sold to Irving]; Florence and Herbert Irving , New York (1989–2015; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "East Asian Lacquer from the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection," November 22, 1991–February 23, 1992.

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New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Painted and Carved," 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: An Introduction," December 4, 2007–May 11, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer," August 6, 2009–February 21, 2010.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Red and Black: Chinese Lacquer, 13th–16th Century," September 7, 2011–June 10, 2012.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Introduction to Chinese Lacquer," December 11, 2013–July 6, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Lacquer: Treasures from the Irving Collection, 12th–18th Century," August 15, 2015–June 19, 2016.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cinnabar: The Chinese Art of Carved Lacquer, 14th to 19th Century," June 15, 2016–October 9, 2017.

Asian Art (35,454)