A pair of carved cinnabar lacquer mille fleur pattern incense boxes and covers

十八 / 十九世紀   剔紅萬花紋香盒一對

The boxes are each of zimu (字母) form, having a shallow domed cover secured on the similarly shaped base by a low internal flange. The exteriors of the covers and bases are entirely carved with a dense mille fleur pattern of flowering prunus, with tiny five-petalled blooms borne on branching stems. The interiors are lacquered black.

English private collection

The present boxes represent the continuation of a type of shallow domed lacquer incense box going as far back as the fifteenth century. They would have contained pieces of scented wood or powdered incense.

An example of a similarly densely carved mille fleur lacquer box, dated to the eighteenth century is illustrated in Im Zeichen Des Drachen: Von Der Schönheit Chinesischer Lacke, no. 88, p. 182.


Dimensions: Diameter of each: 7 cm, 2 ¾ inches

Date: Qing dynasty (1644-1911), 18th/19th century

Price: On Request