Ming Dynasty Furniture

History of Ming Dynasty Furniture

Toward the conclusion of the Ming line (1368–1644), numerous literary researchers gave up their official positions due to all the corruption around them. They returned to their private life and refocused their endeavors towards fostering their creativity and appreciation for aesthetics. This led to them sometimes putting their creative focus on their home surroundings. This had a huge impact on styles of Ming dynasty furniture. The scholars would express their creative ideas and preferences to experts, who would in turn reflect their creativity in furniture design and its aesthetics. The craftsmen over favored Huanghuali wood due to its natural design that complimented the simple yet elegant furniture designs. Ming Dynasty period furniture was neither lacquered, delicately designed, nor embellished with ornate carvings, but was deliberately designed to be simple and sedate, where the natural color and grain of the wood was allowed to speak for itself, as it were. Typical articles of furniture made of Chinese pear wood were large-surface items such as tables, chairs and commodes.

The Ming dynasty is considered the golden age of Chinese woodblock illustrations and development of furniture. Some of the renowned literary scholars in this movement included Qiu Ying, Tang Yin and Guo Zhengyi and Chen Honghuan. A diverse range of illustrations were designed focusing around based on classics from traditional Chinese theatre, opera and literature. These illustrations were often aspirational and provided a fascinating glimpse into their daily life. The abundance of hard wood like Chinese Pear Wood and its later substitute, Sandalwood played a big role in the development of Furniture Design. As demand increased for the furniture, by the end of the Ming dynasty, hard wood quantity had depleted a great amount.

Horseshoe-back Folding Hunters Chair

Hunter Chair made from huanghuali wood showcased in our showroom.

The Hunters Chair, also known as the folding horseshoe-back armchair and Jiaoy Armchair is the rarest of all Ming Dynasty Furniture. These types of chairs were for the exclusive use of members of the imperial family and people with high status. The chairs were collapsible which made them easy for transportation. When the emperor would go on a hunting excursion, his bodyguards would follow him with the chair on their shoulder.

The design was influenced by the older and humbler folding stool, called huchuang or ‘barbarian bed’, a reference to its foreign origin. The horseshoe-back design, with its round U-shaped frame makes it easier to fold. When folded, the front seat rail fits snugly within the curved supports of the arms.

Quanyi Circular Chairs

Set of Quanyi Roundback Armchair as showcased in our showroom.

The chair design was derived from chairs made of pliable lengths of bamboo, bent into a “U”-shape and bound together using natural fibers. These chairs puts on display the ingenuity and creativity of Ming dynasty craftsmen, who were able to create a hardwood version by developing and utilizing complicated techniques.

The chairs were constructed with a wide back and a round frame to awe people aesthetically. These chairs were comfortable, sturdy and lightweight which made them very popular in Ming and Qing dynasty and were depicted in various illustration books. In ancient China, the chair was used for either the master of the house or very important guests who were close to the family.

Ming Couch-bed

The Couch-bed is one of the most recognizable forms of Chinese classical furniture. It’s powerful incurved feet gave a sense of stability and strength. Elegantly made, the three panels ends gave the user decent space while he complexity of the platform upheld prestige.

 The versatility of the couch-bed made it very popular in the Ming and Qing dynasty. As the name suggests, the couch-bed was used as a couch during the day and as a bed during the night. These types of furniture were mostly seen in scholar’s studios, garden pavilions, reception halls and in women’s quarters.

Painting Table

Painting Table showcased in our showroom. 

The ingenious design and attention to details makes these kinds of Painting Table a sight to behold. Its clean and sober lines give it an elegant finish. By combining the deceptively simple four-sided-flushed construction and sophisticated engraving and designing, this table exemplifies the Ming craftsmen’s efforts to create furniture that echoed and enhanced elements of traditional Chinese architecture. The result is a table that is both functional and decorative, and one that celebrates the natural beauty of the wood.