Sutra box with dragons amid clouds

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644), Yongle period (1403–24)

Culture: China

Medium: Red lacquer with incised decoration inlaid with gold; damascened brass lock and key

Dimensions: H. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm); W. 5 in. (12.7 cm); L. 16 in. (40.6 cm)

Classification: Lacquer

Credit Line: Purchase, Sir Joseph Hotung and The Vincent Astor Foundation Gifts, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.584a–c


Vigorous, sinewy dragons are frequently depicted on works produced during the reign of the Yongle emperor. Intended to hold a Buddhist text made in the Chinese album format, luxurious boxes like this one were made for use at court.