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Chinese Antique Furniture

The classical Chinese furniture from Eastern Curio Co.,Ltd is handcrafted to bring a taste of oriental elegance into your home. Our range of stunning Chinese cabinets, tables, trunks, chests and chinoiserie are based on antique styles from China's Ming and Qing Dynasty - the golden age of Chinese furniture. Whether it is the graceful curves of a horseshoe chair, the beauty of a hand carved oriental screen, or the refined storage offered by our Chinese blanket trunks, we are sure you will find something among our furniture range that will give you pleasure for years to come. And if you are looking for genuine oriental and Chinese antique furniture, we can help you source that too. Most of the Chinese furniture we select are antiques and are tagged with approximate age, description of original purpose, province of origin and kind of wood. Each an piece is completely disassembled at every joint and rebuilt to exceed original strength and longevity before leaving China. During reconstruction some pieces are modified for efficient function in the modern world. These modifacations do not deflate the value of the piece. Then each piece is either refinished or just touched up to maintain original appearance. From simple countryside village designs to elaborately carved museum quality pieces. Occasionally we are fortunate to acquire some rare Mongolian and Tibet Antiques often with raised tribal paintings on them. Unique, fabulous and available, for the moment.

History of Chinese Furniture

As in most other Asian cultures, the custom in ancient Chinese homes was to kneel or sit cross-legged on floor level mats. Furnishings were restricted to low level tables, armrests and decorative screens, with simplicity and minimalism the overriding themes. Some time during the Tang dynasty (618 - 907 AD), higher seats first started to appear amongst the Chinese elite and their usage soon spread to all levels of society. Evidence as to why this move to higher seating took place is scarce, although the elevated status associated with being raised off the floor is likely to have been a major factor. With the higher level of seating came other types of furniture, including benches, long rectangular tables and folding screens.

By the 12th century seating on the floor was rare in China, unlike in other Asian countries where the custom continued, and the chair or more commonly the stool was used in the vast majority of houses throughout the country. Over the next few centuries furniture design and construction continued to be refined, leading up to the late Ming period (1368 – 1644), which is considered by most to be the golden age of Chinese furniture. By this time China had become extremely prosperous, particularly its coastal cities, and demand for luxury items including fine furniture had grown.

The furniture of this time displayed simple, elegant lines, beautiful curves and superb craftsmanship. The quality and accuracy of joinery was so precise that nails and glue were used only as supplements. Metalwork such as handles, hinges and lock plates were designed to complement the graceful lines of each piece. These were no longer simply functional items of furniture but had become objects of beauty, and their timeless simplicity means that they still grace even the most modern home.

Many of the designs that first appeared during this period remained unchanged, in some cases for hundreds of years. Drawings on paper were rare. Instead verbal descriptions of ‘types’ of furniture were passed down from generation to generation, along with the skills and craftsmanship to continue the tradition. In many ways the artisans that produced the beautiful pieces of this time were far more advanced than their European counterparts. One simple example of their technical superiority is the appearance early on in China of the curved backrest, designed to both please the eye and to increase a chair’s comfort. This same feature did not appear in European furniture making until centuries later.

The majority of Ming furniture was made of timber from indigenous trees such as pine, elm and zelkova (known as ‘southern elm’). However, the lifting of a ban on imports in 1567 and the subsequent increase in maritime trade also saw the use of tropical hardwoods, mostly imported from South East Asia. These included the dense, precious hardwoods Zitan and Huang-Huali.

Although few examples of the originals remain today, a wide range of finishes were used for furniture of the Ming period. These included heavy carved lacquer, sometimes inlaid with mother of pearl or agate; plainer red or black lacquer; and a more natural finish, allowing the grain to stand out and the beauty of the wood to be the main focus of the piece. Contrary to the image often held in Western minds of opulent painted and lacquered items, evidence suggests that the elite scholars and officials of the time preferred a more refined and restrained finish.

Furniture produced during the early Qing period (1644 – 1911) was similar to Ming and continued to display classic, simple lines. However a change in style gradually appeared, and by the end of the 18th century the purity of Ming furniture had been replaced by angular forms and overly ornate carvings.

The designs that came out of China during the Ming dynasty were much admired by the Europeans and have had a major influence on Western interior design. The timeless simplicity and perfect proportions of Ming furniture allow these pieces to grace even the most modern home, and we hope that you will find something to delight you amongst the Eastern Curio's range.

Chinese antique furniture general information
Ancient Chinese furniture has a fine reputation in modern China and the West alike, Chinese ancient furniture features profound cultural facts and superb craftsmanship. The furniture was mostly made from precious wood, in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1616-1911) dynasties. It is widely recognized as the best, because furniture before the Ming Dynasty did not survive wars and time, traditional Chinese furniture craftsmanship did not reach its zenith until the Ming Dynasty. It reached a high level of aesthetic success and could even claim a place in the history of world furniture.
Chinese furniture was usually lacquered red or black and then painted, and often carved and sometimes inlaid with other materials such as precious stones, etc.Ming Dynasty funiture is known for its simplicity with sparse lines and little decoration while Qing furniture emphasizes detail and extravagance. Furniture from southern China tends to be very elaborate whereas northern furniture is big, heavy and grand.
Ming Dynasty Furniture:
Ming furniture is simple with sparse lines and little decoration. It usually features fine and durable precious woods, such as mahogany, sandalwood, rose wood etc. In the Ming Dynasty, the demand for fine furniture, the ample supply of wood and the highly developed tenon-mortise technology all facilitated the success of the Ming furniture. Craftsmen of the Ming Dynasty used the succinct language of art to express their inner feelings, and combined ingeniously with the beauty of simplicity and quietness. So the Ming furniture usually has simple structures, unique shapes and minimal decorations which would reserve the natural beauty of the wood. Lines were ingeniously applied to emphasize details such as the back of an armchair and the legs and resting bars of chairs and tables. Main emphasis was placed on the application of the natural beauty of the wood texture and adopting latticework and openwork carving. On eye-striking places such as the backs of armchairs, there would be simple patterns by relief engraving or openwork carving.
Qing Dynasty Furniture:
In the early Qing Dynasty, furniture inherited characteristics of the Ming Dynasty, from the reign of Emperor Yongzheng to Emperor Jiaqing. After political power was stabilized and the economy improved, people began to pay more attention to more material things in there lives, and demanded decorative and luxurious furnishings, gaudiness and sumptuousness were a basic features of Qing furniture which was usually heavy and sizable, featuring exquisitely carved patterns. Some pieces were carved from head to foot and had inlays of stone, mother-of-pearl, porcelain, metal, and enamel. Qing furniture had curved decorations and exaggerated shapes that demanded attention. Chinese traditional furniture has a strong aesthetic appeal due to its apparently simple lines and the fact that it makes use of "natural materials" such as the finest hardwoods-no fusty stuffed couches here. Ready comparisons can be made to Danish furniture, with its sparse lines.
With Chinese furniture, you see what you get. Nothing is hidden, and the wood is polished, stained or lacquered to evoke its natural earthiness and grainy patterns.Chinese furniture reached a pinnacle of fine design and workmanship from the sixteenth centuries, the later part of the Ming period. Fine furniture is characterized by restrained and elegant designs and complex joinery that held the furniture together without glue or nails.
Chinese furniture uses a number of types of wood that are only known by their is that some types of wood have several Chinese names, and the same Chinese name can be applied to several types of wood. The two most valued types of wood are Huang Huali and Zitan. The former is a tropical hardwood that grows in China, and has a wide range of colors. In its lighter variations, it is called Huang (yellow) Huali, and in its darker manifestations, Lao (old) Huali. Zitan, with its purplish brown color, can be considered the most precious type of timber, and its expense and rarity are related to the fact that it was imported. More common timber types are oak, elm, maple, chestnut, poplar, birch, Hong Mu and Nan Mu.

The Chinese Grandfather Chair
The taishiyi means literally the Imperial Rector's Chair" but has been loosely called by some old-time Western residents in China the "gradfather chair". It is different from its Western counterpart in that it is not upholstered but made of hard wood and with a straight back and arms. Rector's chairs of various descriptions can still be seen in the imperial palaces and the mansions of former courtiers and officials. They can also be found in some old families among the people.
The name for the chair first appeared at the end of the Northern Song in the 12th century. A man, in order to palace Qin Hui, the powerful and traitorous prime minister and Imperial rector, presented to him a roomy, cross-legged chair specially made with a head-rest that resembled a lotus leaf, which he named the "Imperial Rector's chair". The novel design of the chair became the fashion among the upper strata of the Song officialdom, and the name stuck.
Down in the Ming Dynasty(1368-1644), the Rector's chair was reshaped, with its back and arms forming a semicircle.
The"grandfather chairs" commonly seen today are mostly handed down from the Qing Dynasty(1616-1911). With the armrests at right angles and with the back, they are generally made of rosewood, red sandalwood or padauk and often inset with marble bearing beautiful natural veins. In south China, some of the chairs may have seats woven with rattan skin for greater coolness.
As a rule, grandfather chairs are large in size, and in a saloon they are normally arranged in pairs with a teatable in between, creating a stately atmosphere.
The cross-legged chair of the Song, the semi-circular chair of the Ming and the straight-backed armchair of the Qing, though different in shape and structure, are all called " Imperial Rector's chairs". They were made at the beginning for eminent officials, so they have always been reserved as the seats of honour for important visitors. When historical plays are staged, one of the indispensable props of certain scenes is the grandfather chair to highlight the features of the age.

 

Classical Furniture

The Classical Chinese Furniture's group includes pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Historical documents demonstrate that pre-Ming furniture-making was already well developed both in skill and design, but very little has survived.
As in Wang Shixiang's words, "it is only from Ming and early Qing times that pieces of furniture of high quality material and craftsmanship have been preserved from the large numbers that were made". Ming and early Qing times are considered the Golden Age of Chinese furniture; pieces from this period are high-valued antiques and today are quite hard to find. It is necessary to be a connoisseur to recognize and
collect such pieces. The Qianlong reign period (1736-1795) marks the beginning of the decadence in the tradition of fine furniture; still, because of its shortness and the first appearance of overly elaborate pieces (typical Qing furniture), furniture from this period is considered
of excellent quality, attracts high value and are extremely sought after. In the latter part of the Qing Dynasty, Classical Furniture became just a shadow of the ancient tradition and lost the beauty of simplicity.

Vernacular Furniture

We wanted to start this section with a sentence like: "You won't find such a definition in any book"; but, as a matter of fact you can find one in Kai Yin Lo's book "Classical and Vernacular Chinese Furniture in the Living Environment". These categories can be defined in
different ways, what we intend here is to define a specific group of Chinese furniture that is strictly related to the place of origin and the daily lifestyles of the people that used them. This kind of furniture has popular origins and differ from place to place; most of them were copied following the Classical Furniture models but all of them were made out of cheaper and lower-quality wood. Their age vary between a range of time that goes from sixty to one hundred and more years ago. Today, this group of furniture is the most common one on the market. You can find pieces from Tianjin to Ningbo; from Shanxi to Tibet, all with their specific characteristics which can vary from town to town and from region to region. Because they were handmade following the traditional patterns and joinery techniques, the Vernacular furniture are highly appreciated by foreign buyers, but still they don't have a good market among Chinese people who want to leave behind the rural past they represent.

Reproductions

All the pieces included in this group are perfect imitations made nowadays by Chinese carpenters in the style of the Classical Ming and Qing Dynasties' furniture. Many vendors will try to pass these pieces off as a real antique, but be careful -if the piece looks to good to be old this should be a tale tell sign - . Especially don't be fooled by "certificates of authenticity" or "wax seals" which mean nothing in most cases.
The material used for these reproductions can be selected among the whole range of tropical and strictly Chinese woods,
even the age of the wood itself, to some extent, can be chosen. These pieces should only be bought from a reputable dealer because many factories in China are specializing in this type of furniture using low quality woods caring more about a quick sale than building a solid business.

Woods

This section is the most controversial one but at the same time the most fascinating. The main problem regards the different terminology that makes it impossible to match the Chinese names with English and Botanical ones. That's why usually the best way to denominate
the material used in construction is to retain the Chinese names. Generally speaking, there are two main categories:
- Yingmu or Hardwood
- Zamu or Miscellaneous wood or Softwood
According to Grace Wu Bruce, "Ying mu refers to the richly grained dense tropical hardwoods of which Ming furniture was made",
but it is important to add that it also refers to the beautiful quality in grain, streaking and color, as in the Chinese sense of beauty, grain, color, texture and marking, These qualities represent the main characteristics in order to distinguish fine, quality woods. That's why among the Yingmu category we can find woods that are not considered Hardwood by Western standards, and why according to the Chinese definition, Zamu, includes all the woods not included in the Yingmu category. Among the Yingmu category, the following are the main woods:

lHuali, that is distinguished in Huanghuali and Xinhuali.
lZitan.
lTieli, also called "Ironwood".
lJichimu, also called "Chicken-wing wood".
lJumu, also called "Southern Elm" (not really a hardwood).
lHongmu, that is often erroneously referred to as Mahogany.
A special mention should go to a kind of wood that is not really a wood: the Yingzimu.
The Yingzimu, also called Burl wood, is the wood cut from a large knot or twisted root; it can come from any kind of tree
and it is appreciated for its texture and patterns, which is why it is usually used as a decorative insert. Because, as we said, whatever is not Yingmu is actually Zamu, it is useless to list all the woods that belong to this category. It is sufficient to mention that the most common one is the Yumu (Elmwood).

Furniture made of Yingmu are, of course, the most precious and among this category, the old Yingmu is more valued and
expensive than the new one. The Zamu category is a single group, but among this there can be woods that are actually more valuable than others: for example the Elmwood (and especially the old one) is better than the Pinewood.

Recent Historical Pieces

Pieces that belong to this category differ from Vernacular Furniture inasmuch as they are strictly related to specific periods of
China's modern history. The first of these periods is the Republic of China (1912-1949) or, in Chinese, Minguo. Minguo furniture has a strong western influence and is thus also known as Chinese Colonial style. The Cultural Revolution is another of these periods even though furniture from this time are honestly ugly and of low quality, it nonetheless documents a particular piece of China's history.

Jiaoyi-Ancient Folding Chair
It is not uncommon for someone to ask an official the oft-repeated question:"Which jiaoyi are you in?" The question is meant to clarify the man's exact position in the leadership of his institution. In the eyes of most people, jiaoyi is synonymous to power. But what is a jiaoyi? The word referes to a folding chair in use in ancient China. Being collapsible, the jiaoyi came in handy for those going outdoors. The predecessor of jiaoyi was the folding stools of the northern Huns. Images of such stools can be seen in the frescos in the Thousand Buddha Grottoes in the Tuyu Gully of Turpan. Jiaoyi fall roughly into three categories. Armchair with a round back. This belongs to the highest grade of yiaoyi and was for the exclusive use of members of the imperial family. When folded, such chairs could be carried on a journey, and this is why they were also known as "traveling chairs". When the emperor went on a hunting excursion, his bodyguard would follow in tow with the folding chairs on their shoulders. Thus jianyi was also known as " Hunter's chair". Armchair with a straight back. This type of jiaoyi features arms that are longer than usual, and is mostly of them were made of Onmosia Henryi, a precious hardwood. Such a jiaoyi was usually for the enjoyment of the learned and moneyed gentry in their studies or countyards. Chair with a straight back but no arms. This type of jiaoyi is relatively simpler in structure and usually made from run-of-the-mill materials. Many of them are still in use in the rural areas of north China. High-grade jiaoyi could be found in museums at home and abroad; there are few of them in the hands of private users. By far there are only about 100 folding Onmosia Henryi armchairs with a round back that date back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

More Photoes and Introduction about US

the original and traditional cabinet is located at the collector's house. it has the history of 150 years old,size around W120XD60XH210cm
antique furnitures restored need to repair and refinishing
antique furnitures restored need to repair and refinishing
the original ancestor painting we purchased from the private owner,which is located at the small villiages but has the history 1000 years old.
the man try his best efforts to pursuade us to purchase his altar table collections
ohundreds of trucks' original furnitures bring back to our factory for repair and refinishing
the ancient calligraphy cabinet need to refinishing
thoursands pieces of chinese antique furnitures are well restored in our Shanghai warehouse
the cabinet 250 years old refinishing before and refinishing after
the buffet table 200 years old refinishing before and refinishing after
the small cabinet 100 years old refinishing before and refinishing after
the buddha side table 200 years old refinishing before and refinishing after
Chinese Furniture History
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