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Furniture


      The forms of Chinese furniture evolved along three distinct lineages which date back to 1000 BC, based on Frame and panel, yoke and rack (based on post and rail seen in architecture) and bamboo construction techniques. Chinese home furniture evolved independently of Western furniture into many similar forms including chairs, tables, stools, cabinets, beds and sofas. Chinese furniture includes Chinese antique furniture and Chinese classic furniture, usually, the former is made in softwood and the latter is made in hardwood.

   1. Carpentry

      The finest Chinese furniture is remarkable for the ingenuity of its carpentry, which avoids the needs for glue or metal nails, and permits disassembling and reassembling. Joints consist of variations of the miter and mortise-and-tenon joints. Floating tongue-and-groove panel allow for the effects of climatic changes. Additional dovetailing and other interlocking devices secure the transverse braces and spandrels. Sometimes dowels were needed, and were often used in repair work. Doors could be made to swing on mortise-and-tenon pivots, but 19th-century doors tended to have fixed metal hinges. The central stile of a cupboard was usually removable, for easier access, and often the   part of the slide-lock mechanism.

  2. Carving

      The round, curved members, like the arms and legs of chairs, were always carved and turned on a lathe or steam-molded. Apart from relatively simply carved “aprons” and panels, carved decoration was often used for back splats and aprons. Surface and openwork carving of 19th-century pieces is highly elaborated, often to the detriment of the overall design. The carved red lacquer throne of Qianlong(1736-1795) is a supreme example of a type reserved for palaces, temples an restaurants. In the late 17th and 18th centuries incised and painted lacquer furniture was exported to the Europe in large quantities.



   3.Wood

     Hard, dark, finely grained, aromatic rosewoods were used for the best Chinese furniture. They are usually known by their Chinese trade name, such as the famous zitan and huanghuali, as they cannot all be botanically identified. The wood seems to have come from south China or have been imported from India and Southeast Asia. A light-colored satinwood, known as jichimu, was also prized, while cheaper furniture was made of pine, walnut, elm and fruit woods. Bamboo, boxwood and camphor all had specialized uses for light furniture, inlay and storage chests respectively

   4. Caning

      Cane seats were at least as early as the Wei, Jin, and Northern and Southern dynasties period. Interwoven cords were threaded through holes in the wooden frame of the seat. Coarse webbing made from the bark of palm wood was overlaid with fine cane matting, the ends of which were passed through the same holes as the webbing and tied on the underside. Supporting slats would be tenoned into the frame. Caned seats were sometimes replaced with wooden panels. The opposite conversion also occurred, often in the same piece.

 

   5. Metal fittings

       The corner pieces, handle, hinges and escutcheons of Ming and Qing furniture were usually of brass, varying in color from yellow to the pale white brass usually known as Paktong (baitong). The fittings were inlaid flush with the surface, or surface-mounted. A mount was secured by brass pins or straps driven through a hole in the mount with a brass wedge, which was then burnished flat. Straps attaching handles and parts of the slide-lock mechanism were driven through the wood, bent back and countersunk. Lacquer furniture often had chased and cloisonné mounts.

 

 
 

 

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