China Travel Guide

Chinese Furniture

Chinese furniture is one of those rare categories of art that appeal across generations and cultures. The furniture also follows the footsteps of times to develop and innovate continuously. It is an important foundation for the establishment of work and living space. By now, there are various categories with different material and applications.

During Spring and Autumn Period

During the spring and autumn period, furniture of Chu style was the typical representative and the main source of lacquer wood furniture system in China. There are various categories of Chu furniture: all kinds of chopping block, exquisite lacquer case and table, distinctive small seat screen, the oldest bed…

Features:

  • Painted wooden bed is the earliest bedding in our country.
  • Chu small seat screen marks the beginning of Chinese furniture having pure ornamental value.
  • The carving technique is widely used in the decoration of furniture, such as means of engraved and embossed. It was the precedent of the furniture carving.
  • Pingji(a kind of arm rest) in the “H” shape marked the development of industrial art from the heavy bronze to the light lacquer.
  • The process of bronze casting developed greatly, and the method of “lost wax” appeared.

During Xia , Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties – Primitive and Crude

Xia and Shang dynasties was the original period of ancient furniture of China, with primitive and crude modelling and emblazonry. During this period, there were bronze furniture (such as Bronze chopping block), stone furniture(such as stone chopping block) and lacquer furniture (such as lacquer wood tabletop).

Features:

  • The lacquer wood was decorated with clamshell, which created a blueprint for mother-of-pearl inlay furniture.
  • Because there was a strong concept of ghosts and gods in people's ideology at that time, the decoration patterns of Shang furniture tended to have a sense of solemnity, majesty and ferocity.
  • In the bronze ware, the decorative pot door (the four foot in plate shape, two symmetrical features between the front and back feet) has been in the history of Chinese furniture for thousands of years.

During Qin and Han Dynasties – Various and Exquisite

During the Han dynasty, Chinese feudal society entering its first golden age, the furniture technology of Han developed greatly. The outstanding decoration of Han lacquer wood furniture made it shining and exquisite. Besides, there are all kinds of jade furniture, bamboo furniture and ceramic furniture. And a complete set of furniture on the ground appeared, which could be regarded as the representative period of low furniture in China.

Features:

  • In the Han dynasty, there was a new type of small seat, which was the originator of all the seats.
  • Ji (the originator of table) : There are more varieties, such as activity Ji, multilayer Ji, curled ear Ji, and even the embryonic form of table.
  • Couch screen: It is a new type of combination of screen and couch, which marked the birth of newly-developing furniture of Han dynasty.
  • Hutch and ark: It is a new furniture that appeared in Han dynasty, different from traditional box, which was used for storing expensive articles.
  • Dressing table: The earliest mirror image appeared in the mural of Han dynasty. A rectangular plate was set on the circular pedestal, and the round plate was on its top.

During Three Kingdoms and Jin Dynasties – New Trend, Graceful and Elegant

Two types of furniture series appeared: low type and high type. This period was an important transitional period in the history of ancient Chinese furniture between Han dynasties and Sui and Tang dynasties. Bed of Hu minority was introduced from ethnic minority areas and merged with furniture of central plain, which made furniture higher in some parts. Furniture such as chairs, bench come out and furniture with sitting and lying style was also gradually higher. But overall, low furniture is still dominant.

Features:

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