A Lacquered-wood Box inlaid with Mother-of-pearl Dragons 18/19th c.
The black lacquer box is finely inlaid in mother-of-pearl, with a pair of dragons chasing a flaming pearl on the cover and on both long sides of the box, and a dragon chasing a flaming pearl on both short sides of the box, reserved on a scroll cloud pattern ground. The interior is coated with red lacquer. There are surface age cracks on the black lacquer.
Lac Burgauté is a French term for Oriental lacquer work with mother-of-pearl inlaid decoration. It employs shaped pieces of the iridescent blue-green shell of the sea-ear (Haliotis). This shell inlay is sometimes engraved and occasionally combined with gold and silver. Workmanship is exquisite; therefore, Lac Burgauté is principally used to decorate such small-scale objects as tiny boxes, miniature table screens, vases, and especially little silver-lined wine cups. It is unusual to find a Lac Burgauté object in this size.
Lac Burgauté seems to have originated in China. Archaeological excavations show that this art form was found as early as in the Western Zhou dynasty. The technique was refined during the Tang and Five dynasties, and reached its peak in the Ming and Qing dynasties.