University Museums

Title: Box
Name: Box
Date: Early 20th century
Medium: Nephrite
Country/Culture: Chinese
Dimensions: 3 9/16 × 8 5/8 × 3 15/16 in. (9 × 21.9 × 10 cm)
Classification: Decorative Arts, Natural Substances
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: 6.2.13abc
More Information
During the Qing Dynasty (1645-1912), China experienced internal political stability complemented by extensive trade with Europe. During this time, the arts of China prospered and jade carving ascended to the new and higher standards set by intelligent and cultured emperors. Artists were granted access to the finest quality jade and encouraged to utilize their personal creativity to produce unique objects rather than imitations of ancient forms. Elaborate decorative objects featured intense details carved completely from a solid piece of jade in a remarkable display of technical skill.

This multi-colored nephrite box is an admirable example of innovative stone carving techniques and design. Its curvaceous form is accented by an elaborate tangle of vines and smaller gourds ingeniously arranged into a hinge, connecting the lid and box. Two bats protect the character shou, a symbol of longevity. This combination of gourds, bats and the character shou express the wish for numerous male progeny and long life.