Carved lacquer dish
Chinese, Ming dynasty, early 15th century.
Painted lacquer-wares are among the most prestigious of ancient Chinese objects; elaborately carved pieces such as this dish were not made until about the twelfth century. The technique was complicated and expensive, as dozens of layers of lacquer had to be applied to a support, usually wood, in order to create a thick enough base for carved ornament. The bottom of this dish is covered with plain black lacquer and bears the reign marks of two Ming dynasty emperors: Yongle (1401–25) and Xuande (1426–35). The design includes peony, prunus and lotus flowers. [EA1981.9].