A Brief History of Chinese Antique Furniture
Shrewd collectors are familiar with the mystique, beauty, and appeal of Chinese antiques. These pieces have a distinct style in their craftsmanship that can catch the eye of anyone who appreciates art and fine furnishings. The distinctive quality of Chinese furnishings is apparent in the art and furniture world.
Even people who are not aficionados are familiar with the revered status of Ming antiques. Chinese furniture is one of the many areas that flourished during this period. Ming is one of the most noteworthy periods of Chinese antiques, but there are pieces from throughout China’s history that have their own intrigue.
Here is the history behind Chinese antique furniture.
The Beginnings of Chinese Furniture
Ancient Chinese people are credited developed the first piece of furniture that people could sit upon. This piece of furniture was the floor mat.
Prototypes of the wooden furniture we are familiar with were focused on the concept of the floor mat. They created short-legged desks for the lap, chopping boards with legs, and short tables.
Some classic forms of Chinese antique furniture began to appear around the Eastern Zhou period (770 B.C. – 221 B.C.).
One of these pieces of furniture is an altar table. These tables were long and narrow and designed to display wealth, beauty, and possessions. People would display instruments, jade, porcelain, and flower arrangements.
Qualities of Oriental Antiques
What we define as Chinese antiques spans a wide period. The beginning of this period was during the latter half of the fourteenth century, during the beginning of the Ming dynasty. This period stretches until the beginning of the twentieth century, the end of the Qing dynasty.
Most Chinese antiques use mahogany, but the most prized Chinese antiques incorporate two specific types of wood.
The first is zitan. It is a dense wood with a very dark color. The colors can range from burnt orange to blackish reds.
The other type of wood is Huanghuali. The surface of this wood is translucent and shimmers. It also contains abstract patterns.
The Ming and Qing Dynasties
Furniture of the Ming dynasty has the highest station when it comes to Chinese antique furniture. This period ushered in an artistic revival that led to pieces of furniture with sleek, elegant designs. However, the Qing dynasty is also noted for its pieces of furniture.
Furniture from the Ming dynasty is noted for its simple designs that incorporate the use of lines. Artisans blended the use of straight and curved lines to produce furniture with a refined style.
Qing-style furniture was built upon Ming techniques but also changed in style. Western missionaries traveled to China and exchanged ideas. Qing furniture began to incorporate Western furniture styles into their designs.
Qing furniture features intricate carvings with a heavy focus on sculptural decoration.
If you are interested in adding pieces from these dynasties to your collection, click here to learn more.
Your Home Design Guide
Chinese furniture has an elegant quality that adds refined flair to your home. The long history of China is reflected in the work of these pieces and helps tell its story. The quality of these pieces keeps them among the highest-quality pieces of furniture even today.
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