The Chinese antique or vintage furniture that we know today is a craft that is a number of centuries old. The top tier antique furniture was made in Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Ming dynasty period began in 1368 and ended in 1644, followed by the Qing Dynasty in 1644 that lasted till 1912. The furniture built during the period of these two dynasties is generally known as Hall or Chamber furniture and a large number of antique furniture pieces in China are Hall furniture.
In imperial China, halls and chambers were the largest area of the house, used for receiving and entertaining guests. These halls or chambers hold significance because they served to be the main area of the house for carrying out small events and even funerals. The furniture used for these halls in the imperial times was made with a reddish brown hardwood that had a straight grain. Also known as Mahogany or Hongmu is a tropical wood that was widely used in making furniture. However, the most valuable woods were from Hainan Island.
The three important and valuable woods used for the making of furniture were Huanghuali, Zitan and camphor wood. Also known as Chinese pear, Huanghuali is a wood from the rosewood family that has a pleasant fragrance to it and comes in a number of colors, mainly being reddish brown and golden yellow. The furniture made with Huanghuali often has abstract patterns with a translucent shimmery surface. Zitan or Red sandalwood also belongs to the family of rosewood is a heavy hardwood that sinks in water because of its greater density. It is often found in blackish purple or blackish red shades. Intricate carving was done on Zitan because of the fine grain texture.
Not commonly used for hall furniture, camphor wood was also a widely used wood that was used for making wardrobes and storage chests. It had a strong fragrance that served as a mosquito repellent. Compared to Zitan or Huanghuali, camphor is comparatively a soft wood that has a medium brown color and belongs to the laurel family. A distinct feature of antique Chinese furniture is that elements of furniture are not glued or held with nails, rather there is a sophisticated and complicated pattern of joints that allows pieces to fit together, creating an impressive intricacy and complexity in these furniture pieces.
The best displays in China for the antique Chinese furniture can be found in the forbidden city, shanghai museum, wuzhen water town and xidi village. The forbidden city showcases a collection of oriental furniture from the imperial era. This furniture was often used by the emperors and some of it also has western stylistics. A prominent and permanent display of the The furniture from the Ming and Qing dynasties is in the Shanghai museum that has a display gallery of furniture. There are a number of remarkable pieces that you can see for reference to antique furniture. If you are looking for inspiration on traditional residence furniture, the Wuzhen Water town in Zhejiang has "The Bed made by 1000 craftsmen". For a true experience of antique furniture, Xidi Village is furnished with antique furniture because of being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
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