Marks on the inside and bottom of these boxes indicate that they were produced in the imperial workshop and titled “Peaceful Boxes of Treasure” (shengping baohe). Each cover is decorated with two attendants and a caparisoned elephant bearing a basin of treasures. The facial features of the attendants indicate that they are non-Chinese people. This scene envisions the traditional Chinese fantasy of foreign countries bringing treasures to pay tribute in times of peace. As an exotic and auspicious animal, the elephant is always featured in this visual pun.
Inscription: Pao Sheng He Ping (Precious box of an era of ascending peace)
John C. Ferguson , until 1913; sold to MMA]
Stony Brook. Suffolk Museum and Carriage House. "Chinese Art Through the Ages," April 22, 1972–June 30, 1972.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Spirited Creatures: Animal Representations in Chinese Silk and Lacquer," October 21, 2017–July 22, 2018.