A cinnabar lacquer square 'Fu' tray. Ming Dynasty, 16th centuryphoto Sotheby's

the interior deeply carved with a central medallion containing the character fu ('fortune'), the strokes of the character carved in relief with a star-diaper ground, interspersed with auspicious emblems like a double gourd, a beribboned coin and an ingot, framed by chrysanthemums on a leafy scroll, the slanted cavetto further carved with chrysanthemums and repeated on the exterior, all reserved against an ochre ground, the recessed base lacquered in a deep burgundy red - 19.2 cm., 7 1/2 in. Estimation 400,000-600,000 HKD. Lot 3146 unsold.

NOTE DE CATALOGUE: Square trays of this type were a standard product of the Ming dynasty and continued to be made in the Qing period.  Decorated with the auspicious fu character, these trays were made to hold food or sweets at celebratory banquets.

See a related square tray with a large fu character in the centre, bearing a Jiajing reign mark and of the period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Two-hundred Objects You should Know: Carved Lacquer Ware, Beijing, 2008, pl. 86; and a red lacquer tray carved with another auspicious character shou surrounded by cranes and clouds within a related leafy scroll border, included in the exhibition Karamono. Imported Lacquerwork – Chinese, Korean and Ryukyuan (Okinawa), Tokugawa Art Museum, Tokyo, 1997, cat. no. 11.

For a Qing period example of wares decorated with a large character of auspicious connotation, see a lobed dish carved with fu in the centre and surrounded by dragons and phoenixes, published in Carved Lacquer in the Palace Museum, Beijing, 1985, pl. 285

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 04 avr. 2012 www.sothebys.com