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Lacquer Wine-Cup Container

Western Han Dynasty (206BC—25AD)

Length: 19cm; Width: 16cm; Height: 12.2cm

Excavated from Han Tomb No. 3 at Mawangdui, Changsha City, Hunan Province in 1973

With the wooden base shaped by hewing, the container consists of an upper lid and a lower body that closes like a snap fastener.

The outer surface is painted with cloud, whirlpool, and geometric patterns against a black background, while both the rim of the lid and the body are inscribed with the vermilion Chinese characters for “the house of the Marquise of Dai.” The distribution and painting of the colored designs stand in sharp contrast to the background. 

When it was excavated, this vessel contained eight small wine cups, each bearing the inscription of “Please drink” written in black lacquer. Seven of the cups were stacked in the same direction, but the eighth cup was overturned.

This design makes full use of the inner space of the container and is a good example of the perfect union of beauty and utility.

深入探索

The Beauty of Lacquerware

Lacquerware was one of ancient China’s great inventions. The industry of lacquerware reached its pinnacle in the period from the Warring States to the Western Han. Owing to the complicated procedures and high cost of production, only the wealthy could afford lacquerware.

From Tombs No.1 and No.3, over 500 pieces of lacquerware were recovered. They are varied in shape and decoration, and well preserved. Most of them are made of wood, while a few of them are of hemp cloth or bamboo. Of various shapes and sizes and with innovative decorations and exquisite patterns, these pieces are representative of the lacquerware production of the early Western Han period.

A Set of Liubo Chess

Western Han (206BC—25AD)

Excavated from Han Tomb No.3 at Mawangdui, Changsha in 1973

Lacquer Tripod with Cloud Design

Western Han Dynasty (206BC—25AD)

Excavated from Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, Changsha in 1972

Lacquer Box

Western Han Dynasty (206BC—25AD)

Excavated from Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan province in 1972

Lacquer Tray with Cloud Design

Western Han Dynasty (206BC—25AD)

Excavated from Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, Changsha in 1972

Lacquer Zhong-Vase with Cloud Design

Western Han Dynasty (206BC—25AD)

Excavated from Han Tomb No.1 at Mawangdui, Changsha in 1972