The Bodhisattva Collection

Very Fine Cinnabar Lacquer Vase, Late 18th / Early 19th

Very Fine Cinnabar Lacquer Vase, Late 18th / Early 19th

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Lacquer: Pre 1900: Item # 1123042
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From our Chinese Monochrome Collection, a very fine late 18th century / early 19th century carved cinnabar lacquer vase of compressed baluster form. The vase sits upon a splayed foot with a trumpet form neck containing reserves of floral springs atop a collar of wave motifs. Below this there are two separate scenes contained within trapezoidal shaped cartouches framed by ruyi head motifs:

In the main scene, we see the famous Jin Dynasty calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303 AD - 361 AD) sitting at his calligraphy table with brush in hand, attended to by his servant while watching a pair of geese. While indeed very quaint and charming, the subject matter of the scene itself is by no means trivial or accidental. Wang Xizhi, revered by the Chinese as the Sage of Calligraphy, and credited as the famed author of "The Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion," is said to have developed his special wrist turning calligraphic technique from watching how geese move and turn their own necks.

In the secondary scene, we see an anonymous elderly scholar escorting his young servant through a very well-executed pastoral setting. Overall, both scenes of the vase are very finely carved with great workmanship and attention to detail that reveals itself the more one studies the piece. An excellent example of its genre.

Size and Condition: 10 1/4 inches tall, 5 1/2 inches wide. There are some small losses most notably at the top rim, along with several instances of age cracking and separation due to shrinkage that can be seen on various parts of the piece. Though technically condition issues, these are actually very welcome signs of legitimate age that speak to the bonafides of the vase, particularly once one understands the construction of these pieces and the type of lacquer drying, shrinkage, and separation that really only comes with time and true age. More can be read on this subject in books by Derek Clifford and other authorities. But in a market where unfortunately, it is quite common to see late 20th century pieces misrepresented as 19th century and even earlier, real indicia of true age like lacquer shrinkage is a welcome sight.