1017. A Cinnabar Lacquer 'Longevity' Box and Cover

A Cinnabar Lacquer 'Longevity' Box and Cover, of octagonal form, the domed cover carved in relief at the top with an octagonal panel enclosing Shou Lao seated on the back of a flying crane meeting the eight Daoist Immortals standing on clouds, the eight-facetted sides with shaped panels variously depicting boys at play in garden landscapes, the box similarly decorated with shaped panels enclosing floral branches including chrysanthemum, prunus and camellia, all above a band of lappets, the rims encircled by demi peony flowers in quatrefoil cartouches, the interior and base lacquered black, late Qing dynasty, probably 19th century, height c. 24 cm, diameter c. 28 cm; loss of lacquer, cracks, the foot possibly missing.

Lacquer boxes carved with Immortals were produced in large quantities in the 16th century. The Jiajing and Wanli emperors were obsessed with the magical practices performed by Daoist adepts in their quest for attaining fertility and immortality, thus imbuing all forms of art with Daoist themes.

The 'Eight Daoist Immortals' motif was appreciated for its auspicious connotations. The use of this theme suggests good luck and longevity for the box's owner. Shou Lao represents longevity, and the flying crane was believed to carry the dead to the Land of Immortals.

Compare with a similar box with cover sold at Sotheby's in London, 13 May 2015, lot 117