Material and Medium: Ivory
Dimensions: Overall: 50 x 44mm (1 15/16 x 1 3/4in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.344
This small box has been coated with red lacquer inside to aid waterproofing.
It is engraved with the design of 'lingzhi', the sacred fungus of immortality and orchids. Orchid flowers grow in secluded woodland sites, which are a natural habitat close to Daoist ideals.
According to Daoist beliefs, the sacred fungus is found on the Three Islands of the Immortals. These 'Penglai Islands' are far distant lands surrounded by waves off the eastern sea coast of China.
The inscription refers to this paradise:
'The fragrance of sacred fungus and orchid
Pine and bamboo
Immortals mounted on dragons and horses'