Subject:Re: rosewood box ?
Posted By: kirk Sun, Jan 17, 2016
I don't agree with Tim.
It's a very good box. It's Qianlong period & is likely imperial. It is a far more important box than Tim has given it credit for. You will find this word hongmu being bantered about, but is a word that can be used to define any of the precious Chinese tropical hardwoods including Huali wood and Zitan. So yes, it is hongmu, of which 32 (or 34, memory fails me) individual species were identified in a study @ Beijing agricultural circa 2002. Which hongmu? would be an appropriate question.
The sides have good chatoyancy.
This grain structure is common to the Mysore sub-species of Pterocarpus santalinus. The Yunnan sub-sp has far wider side shoots.
Pterocarpus santalinus is an important Chinese medicinal plant that we can find reference to as far back as 'Tang Benecao', or in other words the Tang dynasty publication of medicinal plants. The Chinese refer to this sp as Zitan, which is, and always has been, among the most valuable raw materials known to man. From the early Ming dynasty it has been reserved, exclusively, for use of the emperor & emperor's household. Owing to Qianlong's extensive construction projects at Yuanmingyuan, the Yunnan group of sub-species had all been exploited to extinction during the mid 18thC. As a result, an edict was issued ordering that all Zitan in private hands be handed in. (Tremblingly obey, you have been warned - I think he put's it) At any rate, subsequently a pocket of Pterocarpus santalinus is discovered in Mysore, slightly different but retaining the chatoyancy caused by the shale and quartzite substrates on which it exclusively grows.
At any rate...
Stylistically, this box would also fit the Mysore sub-sp paradigm very well. If it is of a particular age, that I do strongly believe it stands a very good chance of being, it will be possible to attribute it to the imperial studios known as Chi Sung Kung.
If this is possible it stands to reason it should generate, really quite a lot, of cultural interest.
Unfortunately viewing items via image, regardless of how good the images are, is by default unreliable. I would at any rate be very happy to look at it for you, if you are able to get it to me in London.