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Lacquer Plate from Zhu Ran Tomb: A Painting of Noble Life

Jul 21, 2010
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Lacquer Plate from Zhu Ran Tomb

Name: Lacquer Plate with Noble Life Painting from Zhu Ran Tomb
中文名: 朱然墓彩绘贵族生活图漆盘
Dated to: Three Kingdoms Period, 220 – 280 A.D. | Culture: Eastern Wu
Unearthed: 06/1986, at Tomb of Zhu Ran, Ma’Anshan, Anhui | Current location: Ma’Anshan Museum
Dimensions: Diameter: 24.8cm; Height: 3.5cm

Another “Forbidden Treasure” from Zhu Ran Tomb

Weeks ago in the previous post of this “Forbidden Treasure” series, I introduced a pair of lacquer clogs from Zhu Ran Tomb of Three Kingdom Period. Today, I am going to show you another “Forbidden Treasure” from the same tomb: A lacquer plate with a painting of noble life.

Tomb of Zhu Ran was discovered in June, 1984. It has been hidden underground for more than 1,700 years. Although this tomb has been raided before, there are still 140+ pieces of burial objects left, most of which are lacquered wood objects. Lots of them are rare lacquer treasures, such as a lacquer table with a painting of palace life, lacquer plates with traditional educational stories, etc.

Lacquer Plate with Noble Life Painting

This “Lacquer Plate with Noble Life Painting” is best of the best. It served as food container. Its inner wall and bottom is finished with red lacquer; while the outer wall and bottom is finished with dark red lacquer. The color is different between inside and outside.

Its inner bottom has a colored painting on red background. The picture consists of three sections, vertically, top, mid, bottom. From the content of the painting, we can tell it’s not a single specific scene, but a set of different occasions:

The top section is a banquet scene with five people. One man and one woman on the left are the hosts. A servant maid (smaller) is standing by. A bean shaped object is in the middle with a spoon in it. On the right side sits two male guests. All the hosts and guest are sitting on mats. From their facial expressions, we can tell that the two guests are talking and the hosts are listening carefully. In front of each guest, there is a round plate with some food in it.

Zhu Ran Tomb Museum

Zhu Ran Tomb Museum

The middle section has three sets of contents:

Left, a lady is sitting and making herself up in front of a mirror stand. A box is by her side, while the box cap is put aside. In ancient times, women usually use boxes to hold makeup stuff.

Middle, two men are playing go games. One is holding a piece, ready to go. He looks at his opponent, seems hesitating to determine the chances. His opponent is calm and very confident about this game. The painter expressed the expressions and gestures of the two game players very vividly.

Right, two people are sitting face to face. They are training the eagles on their hands.

The bottom section is an outing scene. One person is riding a goat with the other following him. In front of the goat, there is a small hill.

The full picture describes five scenes. Upper two sections are showing indoor activities. We can see door, windows, and screens. The bottom section shows an outdoor trip.

This kind of comic style parallel decorative form is a long tradition in Chinese decorative arts. It is well presented as early as the bronze ware decoration in Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods. It became even more popular in Han Dynasty. The kind of decorations on lacquer wares from Three Kingdoms Period is apparently an inheritance of the tradition.

[Forbidden Treasure of China Series]
This is the 21st of 64 culture heritages that the government of China forbids to exhibit abroad. The complete list is here. In Chinese.

[Chinese Keywords]
国家一级文物 禁止出境

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