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Carved Red Lacquer Octagonal Pot with Dragons and Phoenixes

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Period: Jiajing reign (1522-1566), Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: red lacquer
Dimensions: height: 14 cm, mouth diameter: 22.3 cm

This octagonal pot has a tapering body and a flat bottom without a foot ring. The interior wall is covered with plain black lacquer, while the lacquer on exterior is caved into four pairs of dragons and phoenixes against green ground with patterns including meanders, interlocking clouds, and waves. On each side, the motif depicts a dragon or a phoenix flying in floating clouds above seas and cliffs. Above each dragon are a round panel in openwork with patterns of Buddhist sriratsa and a Chinese character. The combination of four characters means "may everything go as you wish for thousands of years". The gold mark in regular script (kai shu) on the exterior bottom reads "Made in the Jiajing reign of the great Ming dynasty" (Daming jiajing nian zhi).   
  In the Jiaqing reign, the lacquer style was greatly changed characterized by exquisite carving and sharp lines. This pot is one of the finest made during that period.

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