Chinese Antique Glossary – H

Han Dynasty

206 BC-AD 220 and comprising Western Han, 206 BC-AD8; Xin, AD 9-23; and Eastern Han, AD 25-220.

Hetaomu (Juglans, walnut)

This softwood was used primarily during the Qing Dynasty in the Shanxi region. While hetaomu encompasses a variety of species, it typically has an open-grain texture, with colors tending towards golden brown to reddish brown. These features make this wood well-suited to furniture construction.


Literally “Sourwood”, fresh cut hongmu emits a strong sour odor when worked. Given its relative abundance, this dark hardwood was popular in the Qing period for creating carved furniture pieces. It can appear similar to zitan, though it lacks the rich deep grain and luster of this wood.

Huanghuali (Dalbergia Odorfera)

Literally “yellow flowering pear,” is a warm-toned hardwood related to the rosewood family, much used for classic Chinese furniture and scholar’s objects. Noted for its attractive grain and its strength after being shaped and carved, this wood was ideally suited to the demands of Ming furniture artisans. Predominantly grown on Hainan Island, this material was costly and therefore used only for special furniture commissions. It is a member of the botanical family Leguminosae, but experts do not agree on the genus and species. The most commonly cited are Pterocarpus (usually known as ‘padouk’) and Dalbergia (usually called ‘rosewood’). Also see Nanmu, Yumu and Zitan.

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