Black Painted Opera Trunk with Flowers
Shanxi, circa 1890
The black lacquer surface of this antique trunk provides a perfect backdrop for the more colourful paintings on the front that show flowers and characters from popular Chinese literature. The trunk is made from 'Wutong' (or phoenix wood) and is of a type used by Chinese opera troupes - always brightly decorated with scenes from the operas they performed or showing symbolic flowers. The paintings on the central section here seem to include peonies, representing status and wealth. The characters to the left and right show a woman and a man dressed in fine robes, the woman holding a fan in one hand and a candle in the other.
The heavy, studded metal clasp on the front of the trunk is old and would have enabled the trunk to be locked. The hinged lid opens to the full space inside, with plenty of storage for clothes, bedding or toys. The trunk is also a great size to use next to a bed or sofa as a unique, unusual side table.
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