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Chinese Travelling Trunk (Ashoe Trunk)

 Single Item
JL 1051

  • Request

Wooden trunk (possibly camphorwood) with a hinged lid, covered with green painted leather, bound in brass, and decorated with brass dome headed nails. Made by Ashoe in the early nineteenth century.

The lid, sides, front and back all covered with a thick leather painted green. The edges of the trunk and lid are covered and bound with brass, held in place with screws. There are two hinged drop handles (one on each side) and a lock to the front with a brass shield-shaped escutcheon. The panels of the sides, front and lid are further emphasised within the brass edging with a border of two rows of dome-headed brass nails. There is a rectangular panel with curved corners to the lid, and decorative swags to the front, both formed from double rows of dome-headed brass nails.

The sides and front of the lid are covered with a double layer of matching green painted leather that extends below the lid (1.5 cm) to act as a protective cover over the join between the lid and base. The leather is attached to the lid with a single encircling frame of brass domed headed nails to each of the sides and front, with the free edge of the double layer of leather saddle stitched.

The base of the trunk is not covered with leather, and its board is formed from two pieces of possibly recycled wood. One of the pieces has part of an inscription reading “武當山玄武世家” (Wudangshan Xuanwu Shijia) written in 楷書 (regular style), which translates as ‘Mount Wudang Xuanwu Sect’. Another character “嵩” (song), which translates as ‘highest, or majestic’, is written in a more crude style and in a different direction to the rest of the inscription was probably added at a later date by a different writer. The base rests on strips of wood nailed to the perimeter of the base and painted green on their outer edges. The left-hand strip is a later replacement.

The interior of the trunk is fully lined with a woodblock printed paper with a repeat pattern of peonies. Holes to the inside of the base and lid indicate that a hinged brass bar originally prevented the lid from opening beyond 90 degrees, this has been replaced by a nailed length of tape. There is an oval label printed in red (24mm x 37mm) on the inside back rail of the lid: “Ashoe | N.. 5”.


  • Creation: 1800 - 1830


1 box

Language of Materials

  • Chinese

Conditions Governing Access

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Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. JL 1051].

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JL 1051

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 22155


Chinese travelling trunk made by Ashoe.

Biographical / Historical

Ashoe was a cabinetmaker of 9 Carpenters’ Square, Canton [Guangzhou], China, in the early nineteenth century.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Samuel Gedge in 2021 with the support of the Kenneth Rose Fund.


  • Crossman, Carl L. The Decorative Arts of the China Trade: paintings, furnishings and exotic curiosities (The Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1991), pp.253-255 and colour plate 94


27cm (height) x 67cm (width) x 34.5cm (depth)

Catalogue of a Chinese Travelling Trunk (Ashoe Trunk)
Andrew Honey
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition.

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom