Chinese needle and thread boxes
The box contains and represents the tools needed in order for a woman to be considered a good wife and daughter-in-law. The boxes often had symbols on them to represent luck in their marriage. The domestic sphere was specific to women and they were taught skills such as sewing and needlework from a young age to encourage their talents. Even in America, sewing and knitting is considered to be a “woman’s” thing, but is not considered a necessary skill in order to reflect on one’s marriage capability. Its significance was also based upon how they were passed down from mother to daughter when the daughter is married, but nowadays it is uncommon for this to happen and the boxes are available in markets rather than being homemade. The fact that sewing was an important skill to have as a woman emphasizes the roles between men and women at the time, specifically how the women were expected to do all of the domestic duties- such as mending/making clothing, etc. Now sewing is used more as artistic expression versus being needed in order to survive.
The boxes he makes is more based on representing the passage of time and how things have changed. Each box is made to complement each other. He uses bold colors to represent different aspects such as red for blood and yellow for life. So while the Chinese boxes held things that they hoped would help the woman’s future, these boxes represent a past and present that already happened and don’t always show a happy “future”. Also, the boxes can represent more things than just one specific aspect, his boxes showed things such as religion and war and conquest. The complementary aspect of the boxes connects to things such as the complementary nature of man and woman and the upper, middle, and lower worlds.