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Important Antique Chinese Export Lacquer Tea Caddy decorated with Chinese Coins Circa 1900.
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Important high quality Chinese Export Lacquer Tea Chest of  decorated with scenes which are significant both in trading terms and in Sino-European relations and art.  

Description:
Ref: 663TC http://hygra.com/box/663TC 
    Important high quality Chinese Export Lacquer Tea Chest of  decorated with scenes which are significant both in trading terms and in Sino-European relations and art.   
    The lacquer work on the top is raised;  it has been built up slowly layer by layer. 
    The scenes: The orchestration of activity reflects the descriptions of gardens with islands  and water where business as well as pleasure was the natural way of life. 
    For the Chinese water is lucky, as most business transactions took place near rivers which were also used for transporting commodities.   
    The association of luck with water is still strong today.  The painting is in two colours of gold is executed with mastery of art of the art of brush stroke:  The traders are depicted with a minimum of of lines.
    The cultured formal Chinese traders  are toing and froing from the focal point which appears to be a table at which some important robed figures are gathered. The impression given is of negotiation rather than festivity. 
    The most unusual feature of the decoration is the border which features Chinese coins interwoven with bamboo  and flowers on the top. The coins bear the reign titles of Ming and Qing emperors.

The cash coins depicted include those of  The Jiaqing Emperor, Hong Xiuquan, Qing Dynasty, Taiping, The Prince of Tang, The Qianlong Emperor, The Hongwu Emperor, Taiping Tianguo, The Yongle Emperor, The Daoguang Emperor, The Guangxu Emperor,  The Hongwu Emperor, The Yongzheng Emperor, Ming Ming, The Kangxi Emperor, The Wanli Emperor and the last Emperor Puyi.  

As Canton was not under the control of the Taiping,
太平, the inclusion of this coin strikes a very rare bold seditious note, perhaps. It must have been inserted in honor of the commissioning client. 
Coins in this context must be symbolic of the wealth generated through trade. The "bamboo", a richly significant oriental motif, is meaningful here, in its quality as a  homonym with the Chinese word "to wish".
Inside there is a hinged pewter tea container. The top has engraved depictions of the Immortals.

The quality of work is usually  associated with Chinese  lacquer exported in the early 19th
Century. The presence of some of the coins of the last Emperor's indicates that the tea caddy was made at the end of the 19th Century.   

Puyi's  宣統 abdication in 1912 marked the end of millennia of dynastic rule in China and thus he is known throughout the world by the sobriquet , nickname, "The Last Emperor" of China. 

Origin: China;  Circa: 1900; Materials: lacquer on wood:  Pewter Liner. 

Size: 28 cm wide by 20  cm by  16 cm:  11.1 inches wide by  7.9 inches by  6.3  inches.

Condition: good overall; working lock and key;  some shrinkage to top with slight losses: see images

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All text and images and linked images are 1999-2011 Antigone Clarke and Joseph O'Kelly. If you require any further information on permitted use, or a licence to republish any material, email us at copyright@hygra.com