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Covered Box with Butterflies, Gourds, and Scrolling Vines

A work made of carved cinnabar lacquer on wood.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of carved cinnabar lacquer on wood.

Date:

Qing dynasty (1644–1911), Yongzheng (1723–35) or early Qianlong period (1736–95), 18th century

Artist:

China

About this artwork

This vessel plays upon a rebus: the words for “butterfly” and “gourd” together allude to the wish for innumerable generations of sons and grandsons. The image of fruit-bearing stems visually reinforces this ideal, which was highly valued in traditional Confucian society. Butterflies with beautifully contoured wings flutter amid red, orange, and pale green gourds, melons, pumpkins, or squash. The lobed fruits are decorative rather than botanically specific; together, they grow from gracefully trailing stems with large palmette leaves and elegantly curled tendrils.

Status

On View, Gallery 134

Department

Arts of Asia

Title

Covered Box with Butterflies, Gourds, and Scrolling Vines

Origin

China

Date

1700–1799

Medium

Carved cinnabar lacquer on wood

Dimensions

H. 9.5 cm (3 3/4 in.); diam. 32.4 cm (12 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Charles Fabens Kelley in memory of Charles Fabens Kelley

Reference Number

1971.510

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/36691/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

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