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Round Dish with Pommel Scrolls, 15th–16th century


Carved, “marbled” lacquer (tixi), a variety unique to China, was made from at least the Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1279) onwards. In this labor-intensive technique, several layers of thin lacquer in varying colors are applied to a wood substratum, each layer being left to harden before the next is added. Once this coating has built up to a considerable thickness, grooves may be cut into the lacquer, revealing a series of colored bands. This large, deeply carved, impressive dish has seven alternating bands of lacquer, four black ones sandwiching three thin red ones.

The interior of the dish is carved with a design of three concentric rows of pommel scrolls (jianhuan) encircling a quatrefoil floret, a decorative scheme commonly employed on tixi lacquers. The pommel-scroll motif, a trefoil pattern, takes its name from the shape of the ring-pommel of early Chinese swords. The exterior is carved with a classic or “fragrant grass” scroll (xiangcao). The black-lacquer surface layer has been highly polished to a lustrous shine, enhancing the overall decorative effect.


Jean-Pierre Dubosc [1904-1988] Collection, Kamakura and Japan;

(sale, Eskenazi, Ltd., London, 8-12 December 1992, no. 15);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1993.

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