This exceptionally fine lobed box and cover is decorated on the top with a pair of phoenixes in flight amongst flowering peonies. The sides shows confronting dragons on each of the six reserves, and the black lacquer base bears a six-character Ch'ien-lung inscription. The excellent workmanship as well as the inscription indicate this to be an imperial piece. This type of lacquer is termed tian-ch'i ("filled in") and is quite distinct from the more common carved variety, often called cinnabar. Tian-ch'i was especially popular during the sixteenth century. The other period of its finest production was during the Ch'ien-lung reign. The technique relies on the use of incised gold outlines for precise designs in combination with inlaid lacquer in various colors to produce the polychrome decor.