Chasing Wisdom

An Important 'Dragon' Jiuzuo

This type of table is called a jiuzuo, which simply translates to ‘wine table’. In addition to its sturdy and compact form, the edges of the surface are beaded to prevent liquids from falling off the sides. Tables like this current example appeared in the 10th-12th centuries, but became especially popular during the Wanli Period (1573-1620) of the Ming Dynasty. Red lacquer examples are extremely rare. It is quite possible that this table is actually a late Ming example that was lacquered and decorated during the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) of the Qing Dynasty. Well-painted in gold and black on the table’s surface is a ferocious five-clawed dragon chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom. Such powerful iconography suggests that this example may have been used in the Qing Court. 

This rare jiuzuo once belonged to the collection of renowned Chinese art dealer C. T. Loo (1880-1957). Ching Tsai Loo was one of the first Chinese nationals who immigrated to France. He opened his Paris gallery in 1908 which was followed up by a New York gallery in 1915. Both galleries were extremely successful due to the West’s burgeoning appetite for collecting Asian antiques. With his strong political connections and vast network in China, C. T. Loo was able to acquire some of the best examples coming out of the region during the early 20th century, and sold quality objects to important clients and museums around the world. The present lot was offered in the sale of his estate at Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc, New York in 1963.

For a red lacquer jiuzuo painted with a large dragon on the surface and dated to the Wanli Period, see Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 8 April 2014, lot 3120. For another example of this form decorated with mother-of-pearl inlays and bearing a Wanli six-character mark, see Christie’s New York, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 15 September 2011, lot 1325. For a red lacquered altar table decorated with the ‘Hundred Antiques’ and from the Kangxi Period, see Christie’s London, Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 10 May 2011, lot 195.