Tray with women and boys on a garden terrace

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: 14th century

Culture: China

Medium: Carved red lacquer

Dimensions: H. 2 3/8 in. (6 cm); Diam. 21 7/8 in. (55.6 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 2015

Accession Number: 2015.500.1.31


With its lush carving and large size, this tray is considered a lacquerware masterpiece. It depicts two women and twenty-three children on a terrace and pavilion overlooking a lotus pond. One woman rests on an openwork seat; the other stands holding one child while another clutches her skirt and a third crawls toward her. A boy hides behind a rock, three play near a shallow tub of water, two ride hobbyhorses (a toy that may have been invented in China), and several take part in a procession that resembles those of court officials—a common sight in major Chinese cities in the fourteenth century.