A circular lacquer box with straight sides terminating in lipped rims. The flat top is carved through a thick layer of red lacquer and depicts two figures standing on a high-raised platform in a landscape setting. One figure is dressed in a long robe and strokes his beard while looking at the full moon in the sky. His young attendant holds a broom with both hands. The sides are carved with a hexagonal diaper pattern. The interior and base are lacquered in black.
The minutely executed decorative scene of this fine lacquer box is a typical feature of 18th century lacquer craftsmanship. The Chinese associate the roundness of the moon (yueliang) with the cohesion of the family, and family members gather at harvest time on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, also known as the Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival.1 Two larger circular boxes, comparable in design and both marked and dated to the Qianlong period (1736 – 1795), are in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. One depicts a scene of floating wine-cups; the other a scene of releasing cranes.2 Both these scenes depict popular activities among Chinese literati, as does the appreciation of the moon.
- Tse Bartholomew, T. Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006, 10.22, p. 286
- Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colours: Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1999, nos. 116 & 117, p. 125