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Peach-shaped Carved Box with Design of Immortal Zhang Guolao Crossing the Ocean

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Period: mid Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: polychrome lacquer
Dimensions: height: 7 cm, diameter: 13 cm

The surface of the box is carved with ocean waves in green lacquer, and Zhang Guolao riding on a donkey surrounded by falling flowers in red lacquer. To make this polychrome lacquer ware, craftsmen first coated the box with green lacquer, carving it in the wave design. Then they carved through the green lacquer according to the outlines of the figure, the animal and flowers, and reapplied red lacquer on which they then incised details with pointed knives. The mane of the donkey is clear and fine. Its four hoofs were carved in the air to indicate that it is in a great leap as it crosses the ocean.   
  Zhang Guolao is one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese Daoist legend. He is often portrayed together with his ritual implement--the paper donkey. The design of Eight Immortals with ritual implements was a very popular decoration in traditional China, though sometimes they may not have had specific religious meaning for those who used the box.

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