Material and Medium: Ivory
Dimensions: Overall: 202 x 101mm (7 15/16 x 4in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.293
This plaque was probably originally set in a frame to act as a desk screen. It may have been one of several, mounted to form a multi-jointed screen of rigid panels that could be angled against the sun.
On one side of this plaque is a lily, an evergreen and an ornamental rock. Together these three make the rebus :' A relationship for ever'. In the narrow panels on the sides of the screen are running dragons, a phoenix, and a cloud panel. A dragon and phoenix traditionally represent male and female, so the owner of this plaque was making a strong statement about a relationship.
On the other side is a poetic inscription written in fast-flowing running script, that describes the scene:
‘A sense of spring, a room among plantains, the sound of voices
Evening falls, the butterflies are mating among the flowers’
There are two seals carved at the end of the poem, mimicking the vermilion seals added to a piece of calligraphy. One reads ‘Jade Hall’ which may be the name given to their study by the scholar who commissioned the piece. The other seal is a term of praise for such an elegant object, for it reads ‘refined trinket’.