Huanghuali square box
China, 18th - 19th century
A small huanghuali box of square form, the sides left completely unadorned except for beaded lips at the rims. The front panel is fitted with a huangtung (yellow metal) rectangular lock plate with a hinged clasp in the form of a ruyi. The four corners of the box and the lid are fitted with plain huangtung mounts.
Huanghuali became an increasingly popular hardwood from the mid-Ming dynasty onwards, becoming extremely rare by the end of the 18th century. One of the reasons the wood is so favoured by Chinese collectors is the appearance of so-called ‘ghost faces’ in the natural grain of the wood, one of which can be clearly seen on the lid of this fine box. The square format is unusual;most extant boxes are rectangular in shape.
- Rice-Jones, R. and Forsyth, A. Wood from the Scholar’s Table, Hong Kong, 1984, p. 16