Dish with long-tailed birds and hollyhock

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: 14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Carved red lacquer

Dimensions: H. 1/8 in. (0.3 cm); Diam. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, in honor of James C. Y. Watt, 2011

Accession Number: 2011.120.1


Several features help date this remarkable dish to the fourteenth century. Two birds circle one another playfully in a composition suited to the circular shape. The lush hollyhock blossoms, shown from multiple perspectives, have petals of different sizes that overlap to suggest depth. Long, narrow leaves fill at least three layers of carving, adding to the richness of the surface. The unworked dark background seen here is more commonly found in earlier carved lacquers.