Asian Antiques Appraisals And Valuations

The Art of Classical Chinese Furniture: A Collector’s Guide

Traditional Chinese furnishings, known for their sophisticated designs and timeless beauty, are a prized addition to any collection, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of interior spaces and sparking engaging conversations.

Defining Traditional Chinese Furnishings

These furnishings encompass an array of items crafted during the Ming and Qing dynasties, from the late 14th to the early 20th centuries, including tables, cabinets, chairs, stools, beds, and smaller items like brush pots, cosmetic boxes, and mirror stands, all intended for household use.

Construction Techniques of Traditional Chinese Furnishings

Notably, traditional Chinese furnishings are constructed without the use of nails or adhesive. Instead, intricately carved wooden components are interconnected through complex mortice and tenon joints, resulting in seamless and harmonious structures with striking silhouettes and refined lines.

Wood Varieties in Chinese Furnishings

These furnishings are crafted from diverse woods, including tropical hardwoods, bamboo, and lacquered examples. Huanghuali and zitan are among the most esteemed hardwoods, cherished for their durability, captivating grain patterns, and aesthetic appeal.

The Value of Chinese Furnishings

The market value of Chinese furnishings is heavily influenced by the materials used. Pieces made from huanghuali and zitan are particularly sought after, commanding premium prices. The market values furnishings that balance material quality and quantity with beauty, rarity, and form.

Iconic Chair Designs in Chinese Furnishings

  • Official’s Hat Armchair: This chair, with its regal posture, features a curved crestrail and elongated S-shaped arms, reminiscent of the winged official’s hat worn during the Ming period.
  • Southern Official’s Hat Armchair: This variation features a continuous line from the crestrail to the rear upright posts, achieved through a rounded, right-angle joint known as a ‘pipe-joint.’
  • Horseshoe-Back Armchair: Known for its refined appearance, this chair features a gracefully curved crestrail and rounded arms that provide comfort and support.

Noteworthy Chinese Tables

  • Recessed-Leg Table: This elegant and versatile table design traces its origins back to the Song dynasty.
  • Painting Table: Designed to accommodate large paintings and related accessories, this table is defined by its broad surface.
  • Kang Table: Typically placed atop a platform or daybed, this table is used for holding tea, food, or other items.

Additional Furniture Forms to Consider

  • Sloping-Stile Cabinet: This cabinet design is notable for its subtle leg splay, balancing stability and grace.
  • Compound Cabinet and Hatchest: This combination features a large square-corner cabinet with a smaller upper cabinet, often made in pairs.

Tips for New Collectors

When evaluating Chinese furnishings, consider the overall silhouette, material quality, and condition. Examine the furniture from all angles, including underneath, to assess any restoration work.

Maintenance of Traditional Chinese Furnishings

These furnishings require careful maintenance to preserve their integrity, as they react to environmental changes. Maintaining stable humidity and temperature levels is crucial to prevent damage. Regular polishing and waxing by trusted restorers can keep the furniture in optimal condition.


Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.