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Square Lacquer Container Carved with Geometric Cloud Designs

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Period: height: 12.3 cm, width of mouth: 17 cm

The square container is made of wood and includes a lid, which has a center with a slightly raised design. The lower part of the container recesses to a square base. Alternating layers of black and yellow lacquers were applied to the wood; this technique resulted in strata of various colors and is known as tixi (lit. "carved rhinoceros horn") or marbled lacquer. The name comes from the resulting appearance when the layers of lacquer are carved. The lid features carved symmetrical patterns of geometrical clouds resembling the head of a ruyi scepter (ruyi yun wen) with a central design of a persimmon calyx. The sides of the container are also embellished with the cloud pattern. The base is covered in black lacquer and includes an engraved gold inscription of six characters in the regular script that may be translated to read, "Made during the Qianlong Reign of the Great Qing" (Daqing Qianlong nian zhi).
    Another four characters fashioned in the same technique below this inscription may be translated to read, "Ruyi Scepter-Cloud Box" (Ruyi yun he). The container is neatly designed with right angles. The lacquer was applied with great skill, and the engraving is exquisite. With symmetry throughout its design, this container belongs to the fine works made under the direction of the Qianlong Emperor“s administration.

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Author: Xia Gengqi (December 2009)
Translator: Adam J. Ensign (April 2017)
Editor: Li Yang (April 2017)

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