Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Pomfret went to a combination tantalus and electric refrigerator and procured necessities. Fox, glancing around, saw a Lang Yao sang-de-boeuf perched on a cabinet in a corner, and a large deep peach bloom on a table against the wall.
Tecumseh Fox is a lesser-known detective created by Rex Stout, and portrayed in three novels published in 1939–41. This is from the final volume, The Broken Vase. I know it’s a minor concern, but what the heck’s a tantalus?
Answer: lockable stand for liquor decanters, in which they remain visible (same root as tantalize).
And: Lang Yao sang-de-boeuf. This refers to a particular shade of deep oxblood red, produced in Chinese ceramic glazes by additions of copper oxide. The term melds the Chinese and French terms.
Later, Fox is told that this precious vessel is “a Hsuan Te.” This apparently means that it dates to the Ming dynasty, ca. 1426–1435. BTW, the “peach bloom” is another contemporaneous decoration style (I gather).
Bow down to the power of the internet…and consider whether your domicile needs a tantalus….