Lot 3412
  • 3412


1,500,000 - 2,500,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • 16.6 cm, 6 1/2  in.
with shallow rounded sides divided into six lobes and supported on a short straight foot of corresponding form, the interior intricately carved with a central medallion enclosing a pair of five-clawed dragons soaring sinuously and flanking a stylised shou character, all amidst ruyi cloud scrolls and flaming wisps above rockwork and crashing waves, the lobed cavetto divided into six sections enclosing various floral sprays, including lingzhi, prunus and peony blooms, alternating with pairs of confronting phoenix and cranes soaring amidst ruyi clouds, similarly decorated to the exterior with six alternating cartouches, all above a key-fret border encircling the foot and against an ochre ground, the base lacquered brown and centred with an incised vertical six-character reign mark filled in with gilt


Galerie Souquet, Paris, 10th October 1947.


Oude Kunst uit Leuvens Privebezit, Musée Municipal de Louvain, Belgium, 1964, cat. no. P/7.

Catalogue Note

This dish is a superb example of the development in lacquer production during the Jiajing period. While the sophisticated level of detail is retained, the edges are less completely rounded to show off the deftness of the carving. The Jiajing period also saw the incorporation of novel iconographical elements into lacquerware, as motifs celebrating the virtues of rulers started to appear alongside those symbolising longevity, auspiciousness and immortality. The present dish, with its juxtaposition of two dragons with the shou character, blesses a long life on the ruler; the landscape of a mountain surrounded by seas reinforces the message, and further symbolises a desire to preserve his kingdom to perpetuity. Inventiveness, demonstrated most notably in the transformation of Chinese characters into auspicious iconography, marks the production of imperial lacquer in the period. First seen in the Neolithic period, the dragon has come to be revered as a mythical creature and serve as a marker of royal status. Used exclusively by the imperial household from the Ming dynasty onwards, the dragon found its way into iconography as more than a symbol of imperial authority, but the personification of the deified emperor himself: in this case the Jiajing Emperor. The combination of dragons with flowers and Chinese characters, as seen on various works of art in the period, illustrates the singular artistic possibility of this distinctive motif.

For other Jiajing mark and period lacquer dishes carved with a pair of dragons, see an ingot-shaped example from the Qing court collection and still in Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Shanghai, 2006, pl. 122; an oval dish sold in our London rooms, 15th July 1980, lot 214, again in these rooms, 19th November 1984, lot 118, from the Dr Ip Yee collection, and offered at Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd December 2008, lot 2127, from the Lee Family collection; and a polychrome lacquer dish of lobed quatrefoil form, also from the Speelman collection, sold in these rooms, 3rd April 2018, lot 3425.