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A carved circular cinnabar lacquer 'Lotus' box and cover, Ming dynasty, late 14th-15th century. Estimate 50,000 — 70,000 USD. Photo: Sotheby's.

the box and cover both of domed form, well carved through the multiple layers of cinnabar lacquer with central hexagonal lotus seed pods framed by an interlocking lozenge band, the sides of the cover and box carved with stylized lotus petals, the interiors lacquered black (2). Diameter 3 1/8  in., 8 cm

NotesBoxes of the same size and design can be found in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, included in the exhibition Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors, Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2007, cat. no. 35. Another of a slightly smaller size (2 5/8 in., 6.7 cm) in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo qiqi quanji, vol. 5, Fujian, 1995, pl. 34. A smaller box (2 3/16 in., 5.5 cm) formerly in the collection of Carl Kempe is inscribed with a four-character Xuande mark, illustrated by Fritz Low-Beer, 'Chinese Lacquer of the Early 15th Century', The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 22, Stockholm, 1953, pls 2 and 3. 

A number of cinnabar lacquer boxes of this design are found together with a corresponding tray, suggesting their intended use as utensils for the tea ceremony in temples in Japan. Two sets, one from the Tokyo National Museum and another from a private collection, were illustrated in the exhibition Carved Lacquer, Tokugawa and Nezu Museums, 1984, cat. nos 86 and 87. A box and tray bearing a Zhou Ming mark was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1st December 2010, lot 3076. 

Sotheby's. Monochrome, New York, 15 sept. 2015