A small blue and white box and cover
Kangxi period (1662-1722)
The circular box rising from a short tapering foot is painted with four ribboned symbols including a pair of scrolls, a leaf and a conch shell. The domed cover is painted with an arrangement of antiquities including a qin wrapped in silk and two archaic bronze ritual vessels. The base is inscribed with a six-character Chenghua mark.
6.3 cm diameter
A Dutch family collection
This finely painted box and cover was probably made to contain seal paste for use on the scholar’s desk. The cover is decorated with depictions of the Hundred Antiquities, bai gu, which refers to a group of antiquities used as decorative patterns. They include archaic bronze forms, the ruyi sceptre, branches of corals, peacock feathers, scrolls and books. The Hundred Antiquities are the symbols of success that – according to the Confucian belief in learning – will come with study and intelligence. They represent in a decorative way the attributes of a cultured life and are suitable for the desk of the scholar’s studio.