The lacquer also became a refined art form. It was applied in very thin layers interspersed by long drying phases before the final polishing and carving. In the Song Dynasty, the lacquer was preferred to ceramics for the luxuries and was popular in the tea ceremony. The cinnabar color, near vermilion, was the most commonly practiced.
The first lacquered bowls were made under the Song. The piece for sale on October 8 by Sotheby's in Hong Kong is a Ming bowl stand, used to support bowls of hot tea, estimated HK $ 10M, lot 3210.
The 21 cm bowl stand is equipped just over its pedestal with a hollow saucer-shaped ring in seven lobes. Despite its complex shape, it is certainly a bulk piece. It is fully engraved with floral motifs illustrating no less than six different blossoms and their corresponding leaves.
It bears the mark of Yongle, the third Ming emperor, intentionally erased to be superseded by the mark of Xuande. However, experts believe that it is slightly earlier when comparing it with the styles of lacquerware that were presented to the Japanese at the beginning of the reign of Yongle.
This specimen would have been manufactured about 620 years ago at the end of the reign of the founder of the dynasty, Hongwu. The marks are authentic. Yongle's may come from an inventory during the installation in Beijing, the new capital, and Xuande's may be a re-appropriation of a remarkable feat that was already difficult to reproduce in his time.