|Liang Yi Collection|
by Curtis Evarts. Three volume set published by United Sky Resources Limited, 2007
This three volume set is based upon the Liang Yi Collection housed in a museum in Hong Kong. Nothing in the texts provides any historical background on who, how, and why the collection was assembled. It assumes common knowledge, even though that knowledge is not common--at least to me.
These books, whose text is written in both English and Chinese, are divided into three separate volumes. They are:
Obviously, the books describe classical Chinese furniture as that is what is primarily exhibited by the museum. Once again, the question arises, "Why would someone interested in Chinese country (vernacular) furniture be interested in acquiring, reading, and re-reading this set of books?"
The answer has been suggested in earlier book reviews; it is in part that country furniture style is derivative from classical style. Construction techniques are similar. There is a larger answer, however. Exploring the utility, preservation, and sheer beauty of these objects is a joy in itself. After all, one can still admire, enjoy, and study a Van Gogh painting even though only the exceedingly wealthy could own one.
These volumes are very helpful in that Mr. Evarts takes great pains to identify the sources of Zitan and Huanghuali, and their relations to other woods. It is interesting to note the locations where these trees were native, and the efforts that had to have been successfully undertaken to bring them to the cabinet makers.
The glory of these books to me is the photography of Mr. Alan P. K. Soo. These photographs are magnificent and Mr. Evarts's commentary on the items shown is both descriptive and helpful.
I would recommend these volumes to anyone interested in the subject. They are available at Paragon Books in Chicago.