Chinese Antique Cabinets

Cabinets in the China’s history are mainly used to store things in daily life, just as the same function of wardrobe at present. A Chinese antique cabinet or hutch is a piece of furniture resembling a cupboard, with doors, shelves and drawers used for storing clothes and other miscellaneous objects. Cabinets are also used in study to store books and writing implements, in kitchen to store food and other cooking utensils.
Characters of Chinese Antique Cabinets

Chinese cabinets came into existence during the 13th century (late Ming period), when china had become prosperous for luxurious items including fined furniture. Furniture’s made during this time were usually made from timber of indigenous trees like pine, elm, and zelvoka (southern elm).They were usually lacquered red or black and them painted, carved and sometimes inlaid with precious stones. Main emphasis was usually placed on the application of the natural beauty of wood texture and adopting latticework carving. Chinese cabinets from Ming period are usually referred to as antique Chinese cabinets because of their simple structures, unique shapes and minimal decorations which would reserve the natural beauty of the wood.
Today these are classified into two shapes:

•Round cornered cabinets with slightly sloping sides with removable doors and wooden pivots at each end, wherein the doors can easily be slotted directly into the frame of the cabinet, resulting in the design with clear lines
•Square cornered having vertical sides with doors mounted on metal hinges.


Chinese antique cabinets

Both of these were made in matching pair, placed side-by side or symmetrically to suit the interior of the room. The themes that were used while designing those commonly included landscapes and garden scenes, however there are decorative designs which are region specific.


Ming Dynasty Furniture

The antique furniture of China was in its peak time during the Ming Dynasty. The stable society ensured the well development in agriculture and handicraft industry. In the late Min Dynasty, the rich commodities and multi-way trade routes offered a good condition for furniture making industry. During this time, Yangtze River southern areas and Southern Sea regions gradually became the leading places to making elaborate China style furniture.
Background of Ming Dynasty Furniture

With frequent economic and cultural exchange with foreign countries, and imports of precious timber from Southeast Asia, a large number of palaces, residential buildings, and gardens were built on an unbridled scale in Ming Dynasty. Meanwhile, many scientific and technical books on cabinet-making came into being, such as ‘Lu Ban Jing’, ‘Xiu shi Lu’ (Decoration Record), ‘Zun Sheng Ba Jian (The eight letters of Zun Sheng), and San Cai Tu Hui (Pictorial Collection of three Talents). All of this helped the development of Ming furniture or reach an unparalleled level. The achievements of its modeling art, manufacturing techniques, and functional standards took on a distinctive style and gained important place among the furniture of the world.

Characters of Ming Dynasty Furniture

Ming Dynasty furniture was rich in varieties and styles which can be detected from the paintings and woodcuts in the existing Ming furniture. It can be divided by function into six categories: stools and chairs; tables and desks; cabinets and chests; beds and couches; platforms and racks; and screens.

At this time, the concept of furniture sets was formed, and complete sets of furniture appeared in hall, bedroom, and study, divided by the function of each space. They were usually arranged symmetrically, for instance one table with two chairs or four stools. Sometimes furniture was arranged freely in accordance with two chairs of four stools.

Materials used for Ming Dynasty Furniture

The timber used in Ming Dynasty furniture was of tough quality, high strength, beautiful color and fine grain. The woods used including
► Huanghuali or yellow flowering pear 黄花梨木 (D. odorifern T. chel), a member of the rosewood family
► Red sandalwood 紫檀木 (Pterocarpus santalinus)
► Siam or Thailand rosewood 酸枝木 (Dalbergia cochinchinensis)
► Ceylon ebony乌木 (Diospyros ebenum)
► Kassod 鸡翅木 (Senna Siamea – earlier known as Cassia Siamea)

All but the last became rare by the late Qing Dynasty and are in limited supply today. Siamea is a fast growing tree and is being promoted as an ecological solution in many hot dry areas around the world. All of these are hardwoods and often have great color and figure.


This contributed to the production of extremely precise, scientific tenon structures. The parts were small but of high strength; the shape was simple but could be carved and processed ornately. The frame structure developed in the Song Dynasty advanced to quit a high artistic level in the Ming Dynasty, and this structure, combined with creative new styles and ornaments on the accessory parts, gave Ming furniture a pure and simple, but elegant and delicate style, unique in its complementary use of the hard and the soft.


Qing Dynasty Furniture

Qing Style Furniture emerged during the region of Kangxi Emperor in Qing Dynasty. Sprung during the early time of Kangxi period, and developed in the peak time at the late years of his region, Qing Dynasty furniture spread its unique characters to the world and now still possesses the high collecting value at present.
Characters of Qing Style Furniture

1. Various types, multi-functioned design with transformation, elaborate skill and structure. The clear type family has variety and design of a lot of former generation, the modeling is changed especially infinity.

2. Carefully material selecting and making process. The materials selected in Qing Dynasty furniture prefer deep colors hardwoods. In the structure is made, in order to guarantee that the color and luster lamination of appearance is unanimous, too for being firm and firm, Take woods act as in succession and need little wooden concatenations often.


Qing Dynasty Furniture

3. Well-considered and various designed decorations One of the most obvious characters of Qing Dynasty furniture is the elaborate decoration. Craftsmen in Qing Dynasty applied all the possible materials and methods to produce the Qing Dynasty furniture. The most using methods are carving and inlaying. The furniture can be decorated with ivory carving, bamboo carving and lacquer carving and embedded with patterns made of wood, bamboo, stone, china, mother-of-pearl. The decorative patterns use various homophonic names of auspicious words. For example, Ruyi Jade inserted in a treasure bottle means Safety and Fortune; the combination of magpies and plum blossoms represent Eye Twinkle with Joy.

4. Deeply influenced by western style furniture. There are two kinds of furniture influenced by western style furniture. One is totally copy to the western style furniture with poor handicraft. The other one is a combination of traditional Chinese furniture and western style one.

Types of Rosewood Furniture

According to the materials, rosewood furniture can be divided into three kinds:
► All parts rosewood furniture: all parts of the furniture are made of rosewood


Chinese Rosewood Furniture

► Major parts rosewood furniture: major parts that can be seen by eyes are made of rosewood. Inside parts or parts that could not seen by eyes will be made of deep color valuable hardwood or other high quality timber.

► Wrapped rosewood furniture: it is referred to the furniture that only the surface is made of rosewood so it called as the warped rosewood furniture. When purchasing this kind of furniture, the instruction should mark out the exact part that made of rosewood.

The growth speed of rosewood is very slowly, And the number of rosewood is less year by year, the all parts rosewood furniture will e more and more expensive.


Five Advantages

With the improvement year by year, Chinese rosewood furniture now become more and more valuable with 5 advantages:
► Reasonable functioned design: the design is based on human body condition. For example: a rosewood chair is designed by calculating the angle of the back and the shape which may bring people safety feeling.


Chinese Rosewood Furniture

► Elegant feeling: rosewood furniture brings people an elegant and graceful feeling immediately, styles such as Ming Dynasty style, Qing dynasty style, French style, etc.

► Considerate structure: the design applied the mechanics theory. And the traditional Chinese rosewood furniture only can be made by hands. So the harmony of the structure and the art is a window to see the skill of the craft art man.

► Selecting material

► High collecting value: this kind of furniture has a large room in collecting field. It integrates function, appreciation, and collection into one.

From TopChinaTravel

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