A red lacquer eight-petalled flower-shaped small dish

The dish is of delicate construction with a broad recessed central field. The gently curved sides rise to an eight-petalled flower-shaped rim, with each pointed petal formed from alternately concave and convex grooves extending just over halfway down the sides. The central field and the interior and exterior of the sides are applied with a bright cinnabar-red lacquer, now cracked and fissured with age. The flat countersunk base is applied with glossy black lacquer, and is painted off-centre in red lacquer with a mark reading 南陽見記, nan yang jian ji.
Eiji Nishikawa Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Chinese Ceramics and Lacquer Wares of Song Dynasty, March 2014
Between the Northern Song dynasty when, as excavations show, most lacquer was either black or two-coloured, with a black exterior and a dull brownish-red interior, and the Ming dynasty by which time cinnabar-red had become the norm, there extended a period when both glossy black and rich red lacquers were made, with the proportion of red lacquers growing over time. Again, from the Northern Song when lacquer shapes were generally quite simple, being round or gently lobed or flower-shaped, there was a trend toward shapes of more interesting outline. Based on these two trends, a dating to the thirteenth century seems appropriate for this charming small dish. 

There is debate about the origins of the kind of mark seen on the base of the 
current dish. For a Song dynasty black lacquer dish in the Freer Gallery of Art with a four-character square mark, said by the author to have been added in Japan, see Hin-Cheung Lovell, “Sung and Yuan Monochrome Lacquers in the Freer Gallery”, plate 11, Fig. 22a. Certainly, this kind of mark is very different from the kinds of inscriptions found on excavated Song pieces, which follow a standard formula and are inscribed in a characteristic ductus. However, it is possible that marks like the present one were used as identifying shop marks by Song and Yuan dynasty Chinese retailers, some of whose wares would have been purchased by merchants for export to Japan. 

For a similar dish but with six lobes, rather than eight and with two incised characters on the 
base, see Lee Yu-kwan, Oriental Lacquer Art, no. 52, p. 118. 

Dimensions: Diameter: 14.2 cm, 5 ½ inches

Date: Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) or Yuan dynasty (1279-1368)

Stock No. 2120

Price: On Request