Birdcage with Traveling Case

c. 1900
$1,180 USD SOLD
W: 11.0" D: 8.0" H: 12.25"
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This delicate wooden birdcage was once home to the tiny pet songbird of a Qing-dynasty aristocrat. Dated to the late-19th century, the rectangular cage is precisely assembled from thin hardwood rods and features a domed top, an elevated base with removable lower tray, and a sliding door accented with carved door flowers. A long wooden perch stretches across the cage, textured with sand and grit to add traction and simulate tree bark. On both ends of the perch is a carved Shou character medallion, symbolizing longevity and blessings for a long and complete life.

Several finely-decorated accessories are affixed to the sides of the cage, including eight wooden charms and three petite porcelain cups for holding water and birdseed. The porcelain cups are enameled with scholars’ objects and secured by wooden carvings of small robed figures. On one side of the cage are two wooden charms of a peony blossom in a fantail vase, an emblem of spring and symbol of love, affection, beauty and wealth. A similar robed figure and display stand is attached to the other side of the birdcage and is accompanied by two mirroring charms of a crane perched on a pine tree. Both symbols of longevity, the crane and pine tree are common motifs in Chinese art and even persist in the detailing of the cage door.

Overflowing with symbolism, this birdcage is a fantastic collector's item. The cage is complete with a lacquered traveling case, fitted with a mesh screen door and reinforced with brass hardware. A keepsake from a bygone era, we love this birdcage as a storied sculptural object, tucked amid green foliage in a sunroom or sitting room.

From the collection of Frances and Gary Comer.

Porcelain water pots and other accessories will be packaged separately during shipping.

Due to its fragility, this item is only available via white glove delivery or local pickup.

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The Homes of Chinese Songbirds

Bird-keeping was a popular pastime throughout the Qing dynasty and inspired its own material culture of beautiful cages and fine accessories. Carried around from place to place, luxurious songbird cages were as much an accessory as they were a functional object.


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