Chinese Export Lacquer Tea Caddy with Gold Decoration depicting "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms" Circa 1825.
The theme of the decoration on this caddy is exceptional in that it is rooted deeply in Chinese tradition. It depicts scenes from the historical epic "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms". This story, based on real events of the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, was passed on from generation to generation in oral tradition, until the 14th century when it was published in the form of a novel. It tells of the struggle for absolute power between the rulers of three kingdoms and their legendary generals.
Woodblock illustrations of such events are found on early woodcuts which accompanied Chinese editions of the story. They are rare in export work.
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