Featured Oriental Soapstone(?) Dragon Box - Octagon

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Barry Crouch, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    sb1-2.jpg sb2-2.jpg sb3-2.jpg Hello, I have what I am calling a soapstone box. It is heavy and ornately carved. I believe it is hand carved due to the fact that around the base the same intricate dragon appears on each of the eight sides, but no side matches another exactly. It is about 5.5" in diameter. The dragon on top is very intricate as well. On each of the eight sides of the top a different image is carved into it. I thought it was a common piece until recently, when I found I cannot find a similar item online anywhere. I have a poor quality picture attached. If it helps, I can find another camera and take a few more. Though I have had it for a few years, today is the first time I looked at it in detail. I believe there is damage - it appears that the horns were broken off. I had always thought they were just made the way they are, but it appears that the "snubs" are missing the finish that the rest of the item has, so, I believe there was originally more material there.

    I received this from my younger brother, who died tragically a few years ago. I believe he told me he got it from an elderly gentleman in southeast Asia (Thailand, possibly?).
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
    i need help, judy and Any Jewelry like this.
  2. KikoBlueEyes

    KikoBlueEyes On Road Trip

    Sorry to hear about your brother. My condolences. Must be difficult to handle this piece. Hopefully, someone can shed some light on it.
  3. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    Hello and welcome.
    Think we will need some other pictures with a little better detail.
    Please us "Full Image" when you post. Thank you
    i need help likes this.
  4. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    sb1-2.jpg sb2-2.jpg sb3-2.jpg
    Thanks for the tip. I went ahead and found my old cellphone which doesn't have a cracked lens and took more pictures and marked as "Full Image" as you suggested!
  5. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    Much better - Thank you.

    You say it is heavy?
    We might need a picture of the inside and bottom too please.
    i need help and judy like this.
  6. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    I think Chinese, but wait for others to confirm.
    i need help, judy and Barry Crouch like this.
  7. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    As to weight, i only have a scale that goes just over a pound and the piece is too heavy all together; the top weights about 15.5 ounces and I would guess the base is approaching 2 pounds. I have a few more pictures here; I also took a few others and will try to enhance their brightness and post them. sb6.jpg sb8.jpg sb7.jpg
    i need help and judy like this.
  8. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    I'm not seeing soapstone. It almost looks lacquered. If you hold it to your face, is it cold?
    i need help likes this.
  9. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

  10. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    I keep forgetting to say it is a very attractive box. I really like the dragon.
    i need help and Barry Crouch like this.
  11. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    Relatively cold. I am definitely not sure what the material is - I am only guessing soapstone because it has a slight greasy feel.
    i need help and judy like this.
  12. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    Not that it is necessary, but just to restate, along the bottom the same image is on each panel, but each one is slightly different. The lines are not the same.
    i need help and judy like this.
  13. johnnycb09

    johnnycb09 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if it could be Bakelite ? or some early form of plastics?
    i need help and judy like this.
  14. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    I am not 100% sure I can rule out bakelite, but it is about 3 pounds as to its overall weight; the top weighs a few about half an ounce shy of a pound and the base is much heavier. Also, there is a lot of detail in layers; where you see the dragon's body - it is carved underneath what you see as well. So, I don't think it could be a piece that came out of a mold.
    i need help and judy like this.
  15. clutteredcloset49

    clutteredcloset49 Well-Known Member

    It may be soapstone or some other stone. Very hard to tell from the pictures. (Which you have done a nice job of. Thank you for adding them)

    You might want to investigate some of these.

    Be sure to come back and check for more replies tomorrow. People come and go at all hours here.

    Sorry I wasn't able to help more.
    It's a lovely box. As I said, I like the dragon.
    i need help and judy like this.
  16. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member

    I greatly appreciate the guidance and input. I'll check out the link. Have a good night.
  17. Barry Crouch

    Barry Crouch Member


    I just checked out the link you sent. After I scrolled through, I changed the search criteria to "lacquered stone octagon dragon box" - though my item did not appear, the texture on some that matched looks the same. The one that looked the closest is a museum piece from the Ming Dynasty. That'd be unique if it is close to that, to say the least! [​IMG]
  18. blooey

    blooey Well-Known Member

    Your box is not soapstone or lacquer, it is made of resin.
  19. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    i hate to say it.....but from what I can see.... I've been thinking the same...:(
  20. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I agree, resin. I think it is pretending to be antique wood.
    But it is lovely quality, and a gorgeous Chinese subject.

    One of the tell-tale signs of resin is the unnatural staining, like you see on the inside of the box and the lid. Another is that it isn't stone cold.;)
    The fact that it has no visible bubbles or blobs means it is well-made, so it is worth more than your run of the mill resin boxes. But not as much as hand carved boxes, of course.
    The nicely detailed, raised head of the dragon is also good. It is something you rarely see in soapstone though, the stone is too brittle.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
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