Painted Antique Opera Chest
Shanxi, circa 1900
This striking blanket chest, with its detailed paintings of scenes from Chinese opera, vases and flowers on the front, is from Shanxi province in north central China. It was produced to store the costumes and props of a Chinese opera troupe as they travelled the towns and villages, with the paintings designed to promote the show to locals. The trunk is made from 'wutong' wood, also know as a phoenix tree as it was traditionally thought to be favoured by the phoenix for roosting. The figures in the main painting are elaborately dressed, in a scene that includes tables and screens, framed with flowers and pomegranates - a symbol for fertility.
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