Classical Chinese furniture generally refers to a wide variety of pieces made during the Ming and Qing dynasties, from the end of the 14th century through to the beginning of the 20th century. It includes tables, cabinets, chairs, stools and bedframes, as well as other furnishings used in domestic settings.
Materials, condition, age and provenance are the greatest determining factors of value. Chinese furniture is made from a variety of hard and soft woods, and is also found in bamboo and lacquer.
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The price differences between two similar-looking pieces from the same time period in different materials can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Along with having beautiful lustrous qualities, the woods are difficult to harvest and mostly found outside China, making them even rarer. Learning how to properly identify the materials used in individual pieces of furniture takes time and patience.
Fortunately, there are exemplary collections throughout the world, including at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
A superb and very rare pair of Huanghuali square-corner cabinets, Fangjiaogui, 17thth century.
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A rare Huanghuali corner-leg table, 17th century. Chinese furniture is generally made without any glue or nails — rather, the pieces are held together by a complicated network of joints.
Beyond adding to your appreciation of the object, learning how a piece Origin of asian style furniture made will help you assess how it might have been altered or repaired — factors that can affect the overall value.
A very rare Huanghuali six-poster canopy bed, Jiazichuang, 17thth century. To preserve the look of a piece restoration is often concealed on its underside. The best way to check what has been done is to flip it over.
A very rare lacquered softwood horseshoe-back armchair, Quanyi, Second half 17th century. A furniture restorer can assess the condition of a piece better than anyone else. This can determine how you integrate the work into your daily life.
A restorer can help with everything from repairing a surface to replacing old parts that have decayed with age. They are also a good educational resource. Cheng suggests being involved with them during the restoration process. Also, as your collection grows, a good restorer will develop a working knowledge of your collection and will be able to advise on how best to care for it.
An important and very rare set of four huanghuali 'Four-corners-exposed Official's Hat' armchairs, sichutouguanmaoyilate 16th to early 17th century. Chinese furniture is made from organic materials that react to the environment. In humid weather, wood can expand, and in cold weather, it shrinks.
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Subjecting wood to unstable environmental conditions can lead to cracking panels and movement in the joints, among other problems. Serious collectors overcome this by installing humidifiers and other forms of climate control in their homes.
A magnificent six-post Huanghuali canopy bed, Jiazichuang, Late 16th-early 17th century. Classical Chinese furniture is surprisingly sturdy, Cheng points out.
She has seen clients actively use everything from tables to bookshelves. In fact, one of her clients placed an ordinary mattress on a Ming dynasty bed. Chairs and stools are often set with mat seats. Over time, the seats will tear or collapse.
Replaced mat seats are very common and an expected condition issue that does not affect value. Replacing seats, when necessary, will help to integrate a chair or stool into your daily life. Surface wear, she notes, can be restored. Seeing how people relaxed on a daybed, or what they placed on top of a table, for example, gives a contemporary collector a better idea of how the furniture was used.
A rare pair of Huanghuali corner-leg stools, 17th century. This includes not only the owners of the piece in the distant past, but also those who have owned it in recent times.
Along with the type of wood used and the condition of a piece, provenance can add significant value.
A pair of Huanghuali 'southern official's hat' armchairs, Nanguanmaoyi, 17th century. You may also like Related content. Specialist Margi Gristina advises on how to start a collection.
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Song ceramics Top tips for collecting Song ceramics, from learning how to identify an original to displaying intricate works. Chinese inspired interiors display bold colors along with ornate furniture and. However, there are certain events in the history of interior design that define the. The pottery style characteristic Origin of asian style furniture the first phases of Jōmon culture was CHINESE FURNITURE Throughout history, the diversity of culture has.
Collecting Guide: 10 things to know about classical Chinese furniture 'They have a history because they were used objects, part of a home, moved around,'.