Lords of the Chinese World: The Dragon and Phoenix

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Project by mauibob posted 09-11-2012 12:08 AM 4001 views 10 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s a complementary design to my “Year of the Dragon”. This is yet another marquetry box on frame with approximate dimensions 5 5/8×9 3/8×4 1/4 inches.

The design was made using the double bevel marquetry technique and includes Hawaiian koa, American holly, quarter sawn sycamore, Western big leaf maple, Chechen rosewood, purpleheart, crushed red pipe stone, crushed turquoise and malachite stones and epoxy. I used shop sawn veneers (~ 3/32” thick) and a #3/0 scrollsaw blade.

The fictional dragon and phoenix are the traditional animals symbolizing auspiciousness. Along with the kylin and tortoise, they were known as the “Four Supernatural Spirits.” In Chinese lore, any reported sightings of a dragon or phoenix were considered extremely auspicious, heralding a glorious period of peace and prosperity for the people and the country. This is reflected in the Chinese saying: “When the dragon soars and the phoenix dances, the people will enjoy happiness for years, bringing peace and tranquility to all under heaven.”

It is another tribute to 2012, the Year of the Dragon. The soaring dragon and phoenix are vying for an enormous magical pearl, symbolizing the world’s most precious treasure. Accenting the box sides are stylized representations of the symbol for the complementary forces of Yin and Yang, “shadow and light”, which express how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world.

The last photo shows the four side and top panels prior to glue up. As with the Year of the Dragon box, I rabbeted the four sides to allow the top support (in this case made of 1-sided veneered MDF) to drop in. This supports the top panel which then covers the rabbet.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

16 comments so far

View BenR's profile


341 posts in 2867 days

#1 posted 09-11-2012 12:23 AM

Bob, thats just incredible work. The detail is fantastik, but the best part is the grain wrap of the box itself. It looks like mountains. Very nice.

-- Ben in Va

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3037 days

#2 posted 09-11-2012 12:26 AM

Very beautiful piece Bob

..... but why am I looking for a faint image of Mt Fuji in a Chinese symbol ?.. hmmmm

Your marquetry is perfect as your are veneer choices. Together they scream “mauibob did this”, at least to me.

Your understanding and explanations of the lore that surrounds these pieces adds much to our ability to appreciate their meaning.

Thanks for the inspiration.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View mauibob's profile


236 posts in 3306 days

#3 posted 09-11-2012 12:32 AM

Good point about Mt. Fuji, Paul! I scratched my head on what to do for the side panels on this box. Initially, I had both phoenix and dragon flop over the sides, but then they looked a bit too disjointed and the sides had very little detail. I was going to put some stylized Chinese clouds on the sides, but these really should have wrapped along the front and my design was already cut. So, I looked around for some Yin-Yang symbols and realized that most were just too plain. So, with some mods (stealing from Hokusai), I incorporated these wavelets from Japan into the Chinese symbol.

-- Bob, Potomac, MD

View shipwright's profile


8187 posts in 3037 days

#4 posted 09-11-2012 12:45 AM

You are forgiven Bob. Nice work.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2531 days

#5 posted 09-11-2012 01:02 AM


-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View tinnman65's profile


1364 posts in 3653 days

#6 posted 09-11-2012 01:48 AM

Very nice marquetry, this box looks great!

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Daiku's profile


232 posts in 3146 days

#7 posted 09-11-2012 03:32 AM


As always “Nice Job”! Your craftsmanship and designs are top notch.

Thanks for posting,

-- Cal Noguchi -

View Mathew Nedeljko's profile

Mathew Nedeljko

715 posts in 4069 days

#8 posted 09-11-2012 03:43 AM

Bob, this is another fantastic piece, I think I like it even more than the previous one. The grain match reminds me of clouds, and the dragon and phoenix are dancing around each other. The sand shading adds a really nice element of dimension too.

I really like how you flow your designs over the edges, creating a seamless visual story on all surfaces.

Thanks so much for sharing, and keep em coming…I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

-- Aim high. Ride easy. Trust God. Neale Donald Walsch

View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 3173 days

#9 posted 09-11-2012 04:50 AM

This a wonderfull piece!

it’s a pleasure to look at.

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View LittlePaw's profile


1571 posts in 3317 days

#10 posted 09-11-2012 04:59 AM

WOW, that accuracy in cutting all those pieces, the patience, not to mention the design. You did great, Bob!

-- LittlePAW - The sweetest sound in my shop, next to Mozart, is what a hand plane makes slicing a ribbon.

View Woodenwizard's profile


1347 posts in 3282 days

#11 posted 09-11-2012 05:02 AM

awesome. Love the way you match everything.

-- John, Colorado's (Wooden Wizard)

View stefang's profile


16214 posts in 3573 days

#12 posted 09-11-2012 11:33 AM

Beautiful work Bob. I love the way you have wrapped the images around the box. Very high scores on both workmanship and artistic content.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Woodbridge's profile


3624 posts in 2657 days

#13 posted 09-11-2012 03:12 PM

wow that is a beautiful box. You do amazing work!

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2724 days

#14 posted 09-11-2012 04:16 PM

Amazing doesn’t quite cover it.

-- Brian Timmons -

View majuvla's profile


13606 posts in 3106 days

#15 posted 09-12-2012 04:24 AM

Amaizing work,amaizing craftmanship.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

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