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Square Sandalwood Curio Box (with 30 curios inside)

Tags: box | National Palace Museum | wood


Ch'ien-lung Reign (1736-1795), Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Length: 25 cm, width: 25 cm, height: 21 cm 
When closed, this curio box looks like a plain container. The advantage to this type is that it does not take up much space in storage. Although the outside appears quite simple, it is by no means monotonous. The reason lies in the decorative method of using "panels" by the artisans who made it. On the one hand, they allow the viewer to appreciate both painting and calligraphy. On the other hand, they pique one's curiosity to find out what lies inside. Not letting the viewer down, the wings of the panels can be pulled out one by one to form a fan-shaped chest. Almost instantly, the static form of the box becomes animated. Combined with the center that can be turned, it looks almost like a windmill about to spin! If you thought that the pleasure in searching for the curios inside ended here, just wait! The sumeru mount forming the pedestal of the box is also a storage area. Almost like a modern interior design, this technique of using panels to conceal objects is a perfect match! Such innovation is indeed all by unrivaled in traditional Chinese craftsmanship!

Text: Chang Li-tuan

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum