Antique Document Holder with Poem and Auspicious Symbols, China (19404XRK) $350


H: 10.75”  W: 7”  D: 4.5” | FREE SHIPPING

This  delicately carved and elaborate document holder was designed to be mounted on a wall held up by its back panel with sumptuously carved floral cutouts and graceful curvilinear embellishments. It was clearly intended as a wedding gift as it is embellished with a huge assortment of auspicious symbols for newly weds, with wishes for wealth, glory, harmony, unity, fertility, the birth of sons, longevity among others.  The scalloped carrier section is covered with with black, red and gilt designs and poems by the very famous Song Dynasty poet Su Shi. This would be a wonderful, unique, and appropriate wedding gift to send the bride and groom off with the best possible wishes.


This  delicately carved and beautiful antique document holder was probably a wedding gift as it is decorated auspicious symbols for the newly married couple.  The high openwork backing in a hill-like form has two lotuses in gold extending from its side and there is another on the bottom border. The words for lotus in Chinese have the same meanings as to bind or connect, and in marriage it alludes to uninterrupted love, and modesty and are also a pun for “harmony” and when combined with a box mean “the harmony and unity of a marriage.”  Also a homophone for “continuous” or “successive”, the word lotus can combine with other propitious objects that symbolize fertility, the birth of sons, longevity, high status, wealth, honor, and peace as well as a Buddhist symbol of purity. The immortals of harmony and unity (hehe erhxian) who bless marriages are symbolically represented in this piece, as the combination of decorative lotuses (he) and a physical box (he), is a pun on their name and as its function as a container for propitious marital wishes. This antique-Chinese-wood-carving document holder is centered on its 3-part face with a hibiscus (mufurong), a pun for wealth (fu) and glory (rong), and is surrounded on  two sides with calligraphy based on a poem about spring. We sent an image of the box to our Chinese translator who forwarded it to his mother who instantly recognized it as the work of Su Shi (1037-1101) one of the great prose and calligraphy masters of the Song Dynasty. States Christie’s, “His poems have become embedded in Chinese culture, inspiring landscape paintings and poetic illustrations throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. His calligraphy has been copied, studied, and collected for centuries.” The inscription on the right looks like fragments from different poems and there are variations from the original poem, so it appears the calligrapher took some liberties in his depiction. It is in very good condition with much of its heavy lacquer, black and red (representing fu) polychrome and gilt remaining in tack. There is some restoration to the top right panel with some uneven black paint. This would be one of the more unique wedding gifts for someone looking for something not found on the traditional wedding registry list.


Alastair Sooke and Sophia Zhou, “Who is Su Shi, and Why is He so Revered Within Chinese Culture?”

Additional information

Weight 6 lbs
Dimensions 16 × 12 × 8 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 10.75” W: 7” D: 4.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 37.30cm W: 17.78cm D: 11.43cm




Very good, see description

Item Number


Shipping Box Size