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Introduction I The Golden Age ‘The history of Chinese furniture has been marked by the radual change from low pieces to pieces of the height to Which we are accustomed today. From the 1Sth century BC to the 3rd century AD people conducted their daily lives on a low platform covered with a mat, on which they knelt or sat ‘ross-legged and used low pieces of furniture. In the 3rd century ideas about the propriety of kneeling began 10 change, as did social customs, and people started to sit with legs extended and to adopt leaning positions. As a result armrests (Fig. 1.1) and cushions (Fig. 1.2) appeared.’ The Practice of siting with legs pendent on hourglassshaped ‘stools made of straw and basketwork (Fig. 1.3 began in the Period ofthe Northern and Southern Dynasties (386-589). By the Tang dynasty (618-907) not only were stools and chairs {quite common but high tables were also used. None the less, luring this transitional period people still knelt or sat cross. legged on low platforms. By the Northern Song (960-1127) all kinds of high furniture became prevalent and craftsmanship much more refined, In the Southern Song (1127-1279) most of the types ‘of furniture found in Ming times had already appeared. These sowed the seed for the blossoming of the furniture tradition during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and early part of the Qing dynasty, up to 1738. By the Qianlong reign (1736-95) furniture had completely changed and become overly claborate, although the materials and craftsmanship were still ‘of excellent quality. In the latter part of the Qing dynasty ‘China became a semi-feudal, semi-colonized society and the tradition of fine furniture, together with all the other arts, declined. The style of living and the kinds of furniture used during the Song dynasty differed from those of earlier times. Undoubtedly there must have been some very good pre-Song Pieces, but so little has survived that our knowledge of pre- ‘Song furniture is very limited. tis only from Ming and early (Qing times that pieces of furniture of high-quality material land craftsmanship have been preserved from the large numbers that were made, Thus this period is called the golden age of classic Chinese furniture. Furniture reached such a level of perfection at this time as, fa result of the Song dynasty heritage, as well as for various ‘other reasons. I shall now discuss two of the most important ‘of these reasons. First, with the development of commerce fand the consequent economic prosperity during the Ming dynasty, both city and country life flourished. This had an ‘effect on soval customs, and most people began to want good furniture. Second, the open-door policy led to the importation of many goods, including large quantities of hardwood which was so essential fo fine furniture. According to Ming shu (Ming History), in the Xuande reign (1426-38) thirty-three large cites, including Beijing and Nanjing, had customs houses.” After mid Ming another twenty or thirty were added to this list and the large cities bbecame even more prosperous. For instance, in Nanjing after the Wanli reign (1573-1620) commerce flourished and the population increased. Xie Zhaozhe in his Wu za zu (Compendium of Knowledge Classified into Five Parts) says Revel tre hs ben Sch an ise In ppltion tat ap re In Wu Qing Zhen zhi (Gazetteer of Wuchen and Qingzhen {in Zhejiang Province) itis recorded that: ‘When on he tad Qinehen in Toning on the wet fae each te Sc there has been along prod of peace the population continu incesing, For hres mies the Rouse lost ouch cach thr a oe ca ste the cimeys of O10 fames he aren exten, fami ae In such towns as Zhenze, Pingwang, Shuangyang, Yanmu, ‘Tangiu and Meiyan in northern Zhejiang which were centres Of silk manufacture as well as entrepdts, the population and trade volume increased by up to tenfold between the Jiang (1522-66) and Wanli (1573-1620) reigns. Although the gazet- teers didnot mention furniture manufacture, Furniture is a necessity of daily life and so must have been one of the developing and prospering crafts. In Ming dynasty texts there are records of the popular demand for hardwood furniture from mid Ming. A most ‘important passage on the widespread fashion of using hhardwood furniture is found in Yunjian jumu chao (Record of Things seen in Yunjian) by Fan Lian (born 1540): td areca made from fie wood, The common people nl had ce ‘made fom snkgo wood and gol ted aegue quae bles. Mo Tinga fd the young getimen ofthe Gu and Song fails bean the practise of brining few ses of fne wood Ture to Yuriian [near presenta) ‘Shanghai rom Sura, During the Loneging (156772 nd Wank peas, ven lone ffi Rega owe ne wooden uri, and eabicimaker| {tom Huzhou {im Anbu Provins} opened shops sn Yuin where they made wedding furniture and echer objets. A that ine the wealthy fais Si ot consider ju wos good enough and sot had Boome estar For ‘ood ick, sane! wood [ih mead). and boxwood. Thi atte Ie) fine and exritan, each pace eosin 10.000 cash @ mat ex ‘gant cisom. 1s strange Hat even those poceen whe ad a home Would arange a comfovtable place ors separated by woo prin Inthe courtyard they raised glish and plated various Kinds o ower Inside here were good-quality wooden ables an hora whisk or st. $e Te cals ny Hono ay Sst no ns hey Wang Shixing in Guang zhi yi (On a Variety of Subjects) records that: ‘The people of Suzhou, being very clever and fond of antiques, mere skilled a sing old matbods 10 ‘such as small treasures fr the td. inays followed the ancient paters ofthe Shang, Zhow, Qin and Han Synantes. Ths fasion spread allover China and was especially popula lring the Jajing, Longing and Waal reigns ‘These quotations are very important for the history of Ming period furniture since they record that hardwood furniture ‘became popular from the middle of the dynasty, and they ‘mention Suzhou, the centre of the manufacture of fine fur- niture. The fashion for good furniture raised both the quality, and the quantity to an unprecedentedly high level. ‘Wood is basic 10 the manufacture of furniture; if there is ‘not enough local wood it must be imported. In the Longging, reign China instituted an open-door policy which is described. bby Zhou Qiyuan in his preface to Zhang Xie's Dong xi yang ‘kao (Studies on Countries othe East and West): [At he end ofthe Longing reign the Emperor abolished the lw probing trade wih foreign ation. Since then merchants from allover have BEEN ‘eadng onthe sea and many valuable goods are imported, so that ae goods 'rebecoming more common. Each year this commerce aves hundreds of ‘housands of cash, and both the government ad private merchants depend ‘pon i, almowt a though it were the Emperors Souther Storehouse? By abolishing the law prohibiting trade with foreign coun- tries, the Emperor established an open-door policy permitting sea trade and private trade with foreign lands. Since Indochina produced quantities of precious hardwood, it is ‘most likely that a great deal was imported and that the manu- facture of furniture was thus stimulated. The above quotations from contemporaneous text show that within the golden age of Chinese furniture, the greatest flour- ishing of classic Chinese furniture occurred in the period from ‘mid Ming, beginning with the Jiajing reign in the 1520s. This ‘was not accidental but the result of circumstances closely related to the social and economic conditions of the time. From the discussion of different aspects of Ming and early Qing furniture inthe following chapters, there will be no doubt that this period is indeed the golden age of classic Chinese furniture Notes 1. Ammmest are curved pieces of wood with three lps which can be put ‘on a be fora person to Tean on either forwards or backwards. A potery armrest was found among the sit goods in tomb number 1 at Zhacshigang in Tiangning. It is illustrated by Jiangsu Sheng Wenwwu Guanli Weijuanhui ccak@i stim zitf (CPAM, Jiangsu Province), in “*Nanjing jnjiao Liuchao mu de ging isezeA6 OURAN "CTE Excavation of Six Dynasties ‘Tombs inthe Suburbs of Nanjing”), Kaogu suebo, 1957: 1, plate u. Large bag-like cushions ( yinnang 983 ) are also used for lean- ingagainst. Inthe Binyang Caveat Longmen, Vimalakiris shown seated upon bed and reclining against such a cushion. ‘The Grawing s traced from Fu Yunzi 938. , Zhengcangyuan kaogu ji SE fF ska (Notes on the Antiquities in the Shosoin) (Tokyo: Bunkyudo 2, 194), p. 91, plate 23 2, Hourglass shape stools (quanti 9, literally bamboo fish rap are high, narrow, waisted seats, such as that depicted ina Northern Wei dynasty wall panting in Dunhuang, Cave 288. See Dunhuang Went Yanju Suo YAUA06 FH (Dunhuang Research Intute), Dunhuang bihua jt BASEN. (Dunhuang Wall Paintings (Beijing: Wenvu Press, 1973), plate 18, top. Hourglass shaped stools tan also be seen na rele inthe Liab Cave at Longmen (west ide of nche no. 2on the lower row ofthe south wall): Longmen Baoguan Suo MPIGLHrPF (Longmen Preservation Institue), Longmen sik 1s 1.1 Pottery armrest unearthed from a Six Dynasties tomb in ‘the suburbs of Nanjing 1.2 Cushion depicted in Northern Wel rele in the Binyang Cave, Longmen 1.3. Hourglass shaped stool depicted in Northern Wei reli in the Lianhua Cave, Longmen ruanghuall cessed legs and 226 “te: RT a é PPA] Bor re e Afterword ‘As the Chine fave sen us one of he worst cules, thy ‘ve bo cated one of the malor adn in rr. Both ae aca of dy ae, om wich people depend forthe prot ‘ets in very fe, When pragmatic and ete consideration ‘hee an efecto combine, asin he attr of he Ning ‘Sib Qing dont, the rele both ancora and beau [Abou te tition of Chie future goes back to at et the ‘otry BC and few rire plese oer arate ave ned ‘Sve the get period of xan eamps is Ming and x Oi ‘in prod of splendour cover in ths vlume ty Wang SAAN, ‘he word's fremont author 09 Chins furor ‘Wang Shing ae here experi ap He he frre he suis sn lumii, something ofan autem reo ona tna oy Tic toy, es atonal Cs bal ith {mers knowlede al bea, ning erature and cir. Hehe writen martes on Cate mus, plmin. aie ‘Geguer, and bamboo ear and his studs range from Fujin anders to pigeon whistles. Appropriate to te human Ease ‘rion herpes, be sas nous in Beng sours cok, Atul seved an adjctr i teen stool cin competion (Giabsing the hate of chs China, bch Yo Be Sree ‘sored inn arise om Chinese ui ‘rom fay of schol and cplomats, Wang shisang was vated atthe American Sete Being and Yering Unies, eoming part oft bilngual and tural ce of Chine Inelesls During’ World Wat It he lett Belg 10 join the Community of reugee soars in Schur Herebe worked with Lane ‘Sthng the pat hon of Chins archer who was aie {he Ualerty of Peneana. Later Wang ped Lin's ctf ethology 1 the sty of Cisse fata As a ret ofthis ‘ipsence with Lane's wrk, eso Bun very euch ava te Sloe relation betwen arttturea ir, inte orm Stace elmer, an even terion. Inthe ate frie, rnc in Amer td Canada a4 Roseeler rere flow, ‘iin the Chines ar alton er muscu ‘Aer neki inthe Palce Misc and i the Uae of sarc in Chinese Mai, dig the ak ers of the Cultural Revoluson, Wane Shilang was set, along wih: most Chine {ncotuls a uit "own to the course, where he Took Clr of pigs ad ne Naw a senor ellow athe Rare ns of ‘Alo Fes, Curl Rees Bucs, beste intraoral athe fn Chine forte and RS went fo the Vio aed Alber ‘scum a London for somatin at cre In Ns capac ft hnoran he scompain in 1980 the "Great Bronze Age Of Gin exiiton, wich ns shown srl museums nthe United rte ithe cnr of Wang Shisn’s word. During more sta forty per of dedieton Yo frie he fas aque, ese ‘nd now posses the mont importa peat alton of Chie Fare nthe word, Much of hi ee as spent sachin orate ier, hich be is phtopaped and documented wien ule 0 purse te, Many the peste in ths book cone fo hit owm choice colleton. These be as led with, sed nd hen {ur ro hve mentrd droves made showing tr constuction, Wang Shining ha segue owe of Fri yang tbe thing sores, the sabintmaker When separ were neces) be ‘irefly wach beta at work ih dt 1 fea the sees ‘hk cat The ving raion ar wl now be ey oa at {rom the maker Wang Shing has earned ad reored he ch {sch vocal of ther a. Some ofthe ems ape in ‘eer text such Be Qi ast manufacturing regulon and {Le Bon Jing jangis jing, La Ban Casi Marval for Cate), re sours wx sotines nest een een, {nds be pl ses inch he cored the tess dared ops fume kon “Cmse Chie Furmare is Wane Shit’ fst (alleath setae o furrowed in the Ft y a ger ndimore dete volimesn he ame se. the pasate ‘Gast chinese Furie ae In Chinese colo rant ate sed ngs forthe rt tine, Wang's work actly the fst ‘jor cola book in the eld writen Chins pro toh al ‘Sori volumes on Chit arr mrp peter ty Wester ‘etter. ime comious al exp the work beg inthe Tut by Gy Este ar George Kate, who tpt ith the fone ves of Being a tat tine Bought cae Chine future to ars he orm Later inthe 1970, RI. Elson nd Mich eure. wo deals ae olson, puis stat book th some tier formation. Clase Chinse Furi, Wang Siang. aks seminal contin 1 the eae suds. He aang he pcs 1 810 Show te delopmen of pes and, besaning i he singles, {otlowed by the more sompsted vara, and coding wih ie ttamtormaions, He dir all fertare ino wasted and was. Sato, th showing thee dst forms and origin, He even Incas deta imestianon ofthe tral taskroun and othe "An oriial on very pci contbution (the tory of Chose funnier Wang Sian’ finn of he numerous ems ed st theo text and by abner A coramlr of Wang's et ho find nent ad sometimes mao concoct at Ene ‘ule forte his etal vossbulry gent bythe ar: {i as suray my ms formidable tsk At tines an wraondle {roars eres he English ext, ach the tlre for the ‘ke of comin. In all 1 cnsved a Ens slsary of bout ‘oe thon tems, fortis Book and Wat's fhm ree Trish thank th Comme Fr Scolry Communications wi the aap Repu of Chinn (CSCPRC) for he fellowship wh has permite me too researc in Cia and undertake the co tramaton of Wane Shins pone wk ‘Sarah Hane ing, 1988