Traveling Box

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: early 15th century

Culture: China

Medium: Leather, wood, iron, gold, and pigment

Dimensions: H. 21 in. (53.3 cm); W. 15 in. (38.1 cm); D. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers and Fletcher Funds, and Henry G. Keasbey Bequest, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.61


This extraordinary box, most likely made for a Tibetan visitor to the Chinese court, would have been used to carry belongings, both personal goods and gifts such as porcelains and textiles. The large lotus scrolls painted on the sides, and in particular the spiky blossoms, derive from Nepali artistic traditions that were introduced to China in the late thirteenth century. The iron lock for the box is decorated with inlays of gold and silver—a technique sometimes known as damascening that was also introduced to China at that time.