Collection Online

Altar table or desk
(early 20th century)

pigments on wood, lacquer, metal
36.0 × 68.0 × 34.0 cm
Place/s of Execution
Accession Number
Asian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Valerie Burley, 2006
Gallery location
Not on display
Physical description
The solid wood table has a rectangular top and collapsible legs at the sides and back. The legs are constructed in a lattice form, with additional carved decoration. The table has two drawers beneath the top and the sides of the table are also carved. The entire table is painted in polychrome and gold paints. The carving on the sides of the table and the legs includes many auspicious symbols, such as a version of the Chinese character for 10,000, indicating plenitude; bats, indicating happiness; and the Buddhist symbol of the offering bowl. In addition to these gold painted, carved decorations, the sides, front and legs are painted with a floral design in red, blue, white and green. The top of the table is painted red, with a pair of finely detailed dragons holding the symbol for good luck, surrounded by bats, a diagrammatic representation of the endless knot, and a geometric border.