Arts and Culture
The paper discusses the role of lacquered tea boxes as gifts for western business partners from Chinese businessmen in the tea trade and the trade of various Chinese handicrafts in the 18th and 19th century. When tea culture started to exert its influence in the western society in the 17th century, various metal tea boxes with exquisite locks were developed in the western workshops for keeping the luxury tea leaves. Many designs were tailored to the exotic taste of the tea drinking class. The Chinse businessmen and workshops were quick to respond to the new fashion among their western clients. Various lacquered tea boxes were soon produced in Chinese workshops, with designs popular among upper class women in the West, who were main consumers of tea. Many designs also catered to the imagination of China in the mind of the Europeans. Such lacquered tea boxes became popular gifts between business partners for maintaining long term trading relationship. Many such tea boxes were further brought back home as precious gifts for their wives by the western businessmen. The communication of artistic taste and the development of chinoiserie style are explored through the design of the lacquered tea boxes in the context of global trade.