Centuries-old furniture withstands the test of time

Furniture made during China’s Ming dynasty from the 14th to 17th centuries achieved a pinnacle in the art of furniture making. It is also a favorite among antique collectors. Now, an exhibition at 798 Art Zone in Beijing is displaying some rare pieces of Ming dynasty furniture. The exhibition will run through October 7.

An exhibition at 798 art zone in Beijing is displaying some rare pieces of Ming dynasty furniture.
 Ming furniture

The exhibition is held by Jia Mu Tang, literally meaning “house of fine wood”, a company specializing in collecting Chinese antiques. Twenty eight geniune Ming dynasty furniture pieces collected by the company are on display, along with playthings owned by the late well-known antique collector Wang Shixiang. The furniture includes chairs, benches, tables, beds and wardrobes.

Wang Shixiang (1914-2009), hailed as the “father of classical Chinese furniture”, defined Ming furniture as pieces fashioned from valuable hardwood during the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The exhibition places the furniture in seven modern rooms, including a sitting room, dining room and the memorial room of Wang Shixiang. Although created hundreds of years ago, these pieces provide a modern feel. And in the room dedicated to Wang Shixiang’s collections and essays, visitors can feel the profound knowledge of the late collector. Seven bronze furnaces manifest the epitome of his hobby.

Pieces of Ming furniture are exhibited at a space decorated as a sitting room.
 Ming furniture

“The antique and the modern complement each other,” says Qiao Hao, a Ming furniture expert and head of Guardian’s furniture and artwork department. “Every furnace has its own style, and can be called one of a kind in terms of collecting.”

“The study of Ming furniture is relatively new. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Wang published China’s first book on it.” Qiao said.

Wang’s books include Ming Dynasty Furniture Appreciation and Classic Chinese Furniture: Ming and Early Qing Dynasties. They’re recognized as rediscoveries of antique furniture in China.

In modern times, Westerners began collecting and researching Ming furniture before the Chinese.

Foreign scholars and diplomats began collecting them in the 1930s. In 1944, German scholar Gustav Ecke published Chinese Domestic Furniture, the first book in any language on Ming furniture.

Although created hundreds of years ago, these pieces deliver a modern feel.
 Ming furniture

“It’s miraculous that artisans centuries ago could produce furniture that fits modern life,” Qiao says.

The furniture includes chairs, benches, tables, beds and wardrobes.
 Ming furniture

“It proves Ming furniture can withstand the test of time and transcend distinctions between Eastern and Western aesthetics.”

28 real Ming dynasty furniture pieces collected by the company are on display here.
 Ming furniture

Qiao explains the show aims to preserve and disseminate the furniture’s cultural components while honoring Wang’s efforts to do so.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China

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We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

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