Elegant simplicity is characteristic of Song lacquerware, best exemplified by works of yise or monochrome lacquer. While the preferred choice was black, other colours such as red, brown, ochre and yellow could also be seen. Archaeological excavations have recovered a substantial amount of monochrome lacquerware in Song tombs, suggesting its great popularity among the nobility as an expensive object of use, whether for daily or funerary purposes.
The Song and Yuan dynasties have exerted a formative influence on the development of lacquerware in China. The lacquerware from the period, whether excavated, privately collected or preserved as heirlooms, all points to a dynamic contemporary dialogue between lacquer, ceramics, gold and silver as media of artistic production, a cross-influence that has come under scholarly attention.
A slightly smaller seven-lobed dish also with a bracket-lobed centre, in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., is illustrated in N.S. Bromelle and Perry Smith, eds, Urushi, Proceedings of the Urushi Study Group, June 10-27, 1985, Tokyo, Tokyo, 1988, p. 212, fig. 12. X-ray radiography has revealed it to be created with the dry lacquer technique on a fabric core that was stretched over a mould. Another slightly smaller black lacquer dish of the same seven-lobed form, from the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, was included in the exhibition Toyo no Shikkogei/Oriental Lacquer Arts, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1977, cat. no. 430 (fig. 1), together with a larger octafoil red lacquer dish, pl. 482; the seven-lobed example is illustrated again, in colour, in Hai-wai Yi-chen, Qiqi/Chinese Art in Overseas Collections: Lacquerware, Taipei, 1987, pl. 42. There is also in the Tokyo exhibition a red lacquer example with eleven brackets, a circular centre and fluted sides that do not fully conform to the bracket foliations of the rim; see Toyo no Shikkogei, op. cit., cat. no. 482. This piece is now in the Museum für Lackkunst, Münster, Germany, and is published again, in colour, in Monika Kopplin, ed., The Monochrome Principle: Lacquerware and Ceramics of the Song and Qing Dynasties, Munich, 2008, p. 113, pl. 22. Another red dish of this type with nine bracket foliations and a circular centre, from the collection of Sir Harry and Lady Garner, was included in the exhibition Chinese Art under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 1968, cat. no. 282.
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