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Lot 309. A rare cinnabar lacquer carved three-tiered double-lozenge-shaped box, cover and stand, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 31cm (12 1/8in) wide. Sold for £ 16,500 (€ 19,599) (Est: £8,000 - £12,000). © Bonhams 2001-2021

The cover meticulously carved with two five-clawed writhing dragons in pursuit of a flaming pearl in the form of a stylised Shou character, on a ground of swirling waves, all within key-fret borders, the straight sides of the boxes and cover decorated with six cartouches enclosing various antiques and scholar's objects, divided by leafy blooming lotus, the interior and base covered with black lacquer, with a cinnabar lacquer stand supported on six ruyi-shaped feet.

NoteThe double-lozenge, also known as fang sheng 方勝, is one of the Eight Treasures, babao 八寶, which was a much favoured design used in decorations during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Lozenge-shaped lacquer examples first appeared in Ming dynasty; see for example a qiangjin polychrome and gilt-lacquer lozenge-shaped box and cover, Jiajing mark and period, Beijing, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum. Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Shanghai, 2006, no.151. The inspiration from previous generations was in line with the Qianlong Emperor's instructions to his Court and craftsmen to look to China's past for moral guidance and artistic inspiration.

A similar double-lozenge shaped cinnabar lacquer tiered box and cover, Qianlong, decorated with dragons pursuing a Shou pearl of wisdom on the cover, and 'Precious Objects' around the sides, is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei (museum no.Gu-Qi-000261N000000000). See also a related cinnabar lacquer lozenge-shaped box and cover, 18th century, in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, illustrated in Carving the Subtle Radiance of Colors-Treasured Lacquerware in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2008, no.152

Bonhams. Fine Chinese Art: Including Imperial and Court Textiles Curated by Linda Wrigglesworth, London, 2 november 2021