A black lacquer 'guri' tray, Ming Dynasty, 15th-16th century. photo Sotheby's
of rectangular form, deeply carved through thick alternating layers of black and red lacquer with a four-pointed star in the centre enclosed by six guri pommels, encircled by further rows of pommels radiating out from the centre, all framed by thick shallow walls with undulating scrolls repeated on the exterior, all supported on a tall pedestal foot with a bracketed apron further carved with scrolls; 47.2 cm., 18 1/2 in. Estimation 500,000-700,000 HKD. Lot 3140 unsold
NOTE DE CATALOGUE: The present tray, finely carved in the attractive guri technique, is a recognized Ming type. Guri lacquer of different periods are distinguished by the thickness and depth of the carving, the number of lacquer layers employed and the smoothness of the finish. The style of rounded cutting combined with a perfectly smooth finish are in keeping with Ming examples such as that seen on a lacquer box and cover included in the exhibition From Innovation to Conformity, Bluett and Sons, London, 1989, cat. no. 29. The attractive, evenly balanced, stylized scroll border design is also distinctive of the Ming period when it was frequently employed to decorate the back of dishes, for example see a dish included ibid., cat. no. 17.
A black guri lacquer tray of very similar size and form, but of a different design combination of the characteristic ruyi heads and a more stylized border motif, in the Chinese History Museum, Beijing, is illustrated in Zhongguo qiqi quanji, vol. 5, 1995, Fuzhou, pl. 92, attributed to the Ming period. See a smaller tray of this form sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27th November 2007, lot 1789; and another rectangular tray with more heavily indented corners, carved with layers of black and red lacquer with bands of ruyi heads, from the Lee family collection, sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1st December 2009, lot 1804.
The inspiration for this tray may have come from earlier, Yuan period, rectangular form panels such as one decorated in black guri lacquer with red layers beneath, discovered in the cargo of a ship foundered off the Sinan coast of Korea in 1323, illustrated in Relics Salvaged from the Seabed Off Sinan: Materials II, Seoul, 1985, pl. 134. See another early tray of slightly larger dimensions, in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, included in Hai-Wai Yi-Chen. Chinese Art in Overseas Collections. Lacquerware, Taipei, 1987, pl. 62
Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art. Hong Kong | 04 avr. 2012 www.sothebys.com