Painted Black Opera Chest
Shanxi, circa 1900
The paintings on this lovely trunk are particularly vibrant, with the yellows, reds and greens standing out against the black lacquer background. The trunk is of a type used by opera troupes in Shanghai to store props and costumes as they toured around putting on shows for the local towns. The paintings would either be of flowers or, as in this case, show scenes from one of the operas that the troupe would perform. The paintings offer a slice of Chinese history and culture and make this a real conversation piece. To the side of the main painting are details of flowers and vases, along with pomegranates at the top - a fertility symbol in China. The trunk is fitted with a simple metal clasp at the centre of the lid to hold it shut.
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