Regardless of time and place, China is hard-coded into human existence. The country itself is a living, breathing entity; bearing everything from philosophy to technology since the dawn of civilisation. The sheer scope of China’s influence means that its aspects end up diluted and divided, in order for other cultures to subtly adopt them. Despite this, an entire Chinese identity lies safe within the country’s boundaries- one often emulated, even sometimes sat on.
Chinese rooms are so distinct that people usually think there is no further depth to them beyond red-gold structures and meticulously carved furniture. Chinese furniture can actually be classified in many ways, two of which highlight their respective times; perpetually locked in ancient artisan tradition.
Shaped by the Times
Furniture originating from the Ming Dynasty is characterised by a sturdy, rustic design. It is simple without being simplistic, utilising a modest amount of materials assembled without the use of nails or adhesive. Qing Dynasty furniture on the other hand, is complex and intricate. It consists of luxurious embellishments and sophisticated designs.
Powerful governance, as well as massive territorial expansions characterise both dynasties. The Ming and Qing dynasties lasted 276 and 268 years respectively, during which culture flourished and political influence grew. Ming and Qing palaces still stand today, adorned with the furniture representative of their times. These dynasties share many similarities, but their style of furniture apparently is not one of them.
Made by the People
Antique Chinese furniture specialists from Singapore say that the Ming Dynasty represents the industry’s golden era of development. This is a widely accepted fact, as the primary characteristics of Chinese furniture took shape during this time.
It established several types of wood as the go-to materials for centuries to come. With such an industrial boom, furniture makers even lead to the depletion of hardwood species such as Chinese pear wood and sandalwood.
Chinese furniture is one of the few things that remains truly Chinese. Everything else has been altered and stripped of authenticity. Today, Chinese furniture stands as a resolute survivor of a bygone time, and an untainted emblem of a storied culture.