Carved yellow lacquerware Round dish with dragon-and-phoenix décor, Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign (1522-1566). Inscription on the base: Made in Ming Jiajing Jen-Wu Year. Diameter: 21.0cm Height: 2.6cm © National Palace Museum, Taipei.

This round plate with circular feet is painted in red lacquer, with yellow engraving on red ground throughout. Chia-Jing Jen-Wu Year is the first year of the Chia-Jing reign (1522). The border of the plate is decorated with simplified scrolling floral on the base of the plate. The brim of the plate is divided into four open frames, and each of the spaces between the frames is decorated with four of the eight treasures on the brocaded ground; within the frames are also engraved enjoined flowers and branches that are evenly and harmoniously arranged. The lower part of the plate center is engraved with a wave pattern on red base, showing a tall mountain standing before the widespread ocean; beside the mountain the ocean breaks into tall waves. On the upper part of the plate center fits a red crisscrossed pattern, where a dragon leaps into the air and a phoenix descends from the skies, looking at each other across a fireball. The long, slender dragon has its legs and wings extended fully and fiercely, while the graceful phoenix raises its head and spreads out its wings majestically. Enjoined branches and flowers surround the dragon and phoenix, with a peony right above the image. The composition is lively and balanced. The fine layer of lacquer and skilful engraving in yellow and red give a grand yet solemn appearance, a typical mark of imperial lacquer ware.