Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

Monthly Update sign up
Mailing List signup

1 / Converging Cultures

Traveling Coffer
Traveling Coffer
Artist / Origin Ou family of Wenzhou, Zhehian Province, China
Region: East Asia
Date Southern Song or Yuan Dynasty, ca. 1250
Material Lacquer over leather, bamboo, wood, metal mounts
Medium: Other
Dimensions H: 17 ¼ in. (43.8 cm.), W: 28 ¾ in. (72.1 cm.), D: 15 in. (38.1 cm).
Location Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Credit Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum

expert perspective

Ladan AkbarniaAssociate Curator of Islamic Art, Brooklyn Museum

Traveling Coffer

» Ou family of Wenzhou, Zhehian Province, China

expert perspective

Ladan Akbarnia Ladan Akbarnia Associate Curator of Islamic Art, Brooklyn Museum

In the case of our traveling coffer, you have an object that was produced in China, but may have been produced either by a Muslim craftsman or by someone who was imitating a type of composition that wasn’t originally Chinese. This coffer is interesting because it contains many elements of both Chinese culture and of Islamic culture. It was produced in China; it has an inscription that tells us that. We have the name of the person who created it. But the name, within the Chinese language, appears to be a foreign name. So it’s possible that a Muslim craftsman could have produced the actual piece. It has motifs that are typically Chinese motifs that are associated with—have auspicious meanings often associated with—weddings. And this makes it possible that the actual trunk, or the coffer, was produced as a wedding trunk.

In addition to having these motifs that are typically Chinese, the actual composition of the panel, the lid panel and also the side panels on this piece are very similar to the types of compositions that we find in Islamic book bindings even though they date a little bit later. So, it shows a real combination of two different cultures.” 


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy