A Clam-shell Box and Chased Silver Cover, Tang dynasty (618-906)
This is a rare and beautiful clam-shell box consisting of a silver cover and natural clam shell. The cover closes tightly onto the shell edges. The doomed silver cover is decorated with an ornately handsome depiction of a bird holding in its beak a flowering branch, shown with wings displayed, surrounded by exotic blooms and lush foliage borne on long curling stems. The decoration is freely incised in outline and with fine stippling and linear details, reserved on a dense ring-punched ground. The cover has a short chain which is linked to a peg drilled through and attached to the shell. There are scattered malachite green corrosion spots on the silver cover.
A few examples of clam shell boxes are known and in the collection of museums. In the Freer Gallery of Art, there is a silver hinged cosmetic box in the form of a clam shell with chased and ring-punched decoration of birds and floral scrolls, dated early or mid-Tang dynasty, purchase F1930.50 (Silk Road Luxuries)