Length: 15 inches, 38 cm
Width: 8 inches, 20.2 cm
Height: 10 inches, 25.4 cm

Zitan picnic or travelling box, tihe

China, 18th century

A three-tiered picnic or travelling box of rectangular shape, the three sections with a lid stackable in a carrying frame with a humpback, overhead handle, the posts supported by openwork spandrels. The lid can be fastened to the frame by a long baitong pin, which secures the sections of the box in place. The lid is fitted with a wooden channel on the inside to accommodate this metal pin. The well polished wood has the purplish hue typical of zitan, with characteristic
minute silvery streaks.

This very heavy picnic or travelling box is made from zitan (‘purple sandalwood’), the finest type of wood at the time, and the most dense and slow growing of hardwoods used to create objects. Zitan picnic boxes rarely occur due to size limitations and the delicate nature of zitan. A similar picnic or travelling box in huanghuali from the collection of Dr. Michael R. Martin was included in an exhibition at the Altfield Gallery in Hong Kong in 1984.[1]

  1. Rice Jones, R and Forsyth, A.: Wood from the Scholar’s Table,Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles, Altfield Gallery,Hong Kong 1984, plate 52, pp. 94-5.