A rectangular polychrome lacquer box with a similar dragon motif on the cover, dated to 1589, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, is mentioned by Peter Lam in Layered Beauty, Hong Kong, 2010, p. 126; another, also bearing a cyclical date that corresponds to 1595, was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27th May 2008, lot 1563; and a third rectangular box, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, dated to 1595, is published in Wang Shixiang, Ancient Chinese Lacquerware, Beijing, 1987, pl. 65.
Compare another rectangular box carved in a very similar manner, in the National Museum of Scotland, illustrated in Hu Shih-chang and Jane Wilkinson, Chinese Lacquer, Edinburgh, 1998, pl. 22, where on p. 17, it is mentioned that one claw of the dragon has been removed from each of the hind feet, as seen on the dragon on this box. The removal of a claw was a common practice, as explained by Harry Garner in Chinese Lacquer, London, 1979, p. 92, where he writes that it was either done when the box was presented by the emperor to someone who had merited the honour, but did not have the appropriate ranking to own such an imperial item; or, more often, the claw was removed to disguise the fact than the box may have been stolen or removed illegally from the palace.
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