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John Rogers: Hi my name is John from Today we're going to talk about Chinese benches in our continuing series of videos. Obviously benches come in a great variety of styles and a great variety in lengths depending upon what their original purpose was. How do you differentiate a bench from a stool? For my definitional purposes a stool is a place where one person sits. A bench is a place where many people can sit.

Take a look at this bench here please. This is a long bench. It has some really high style characteristics such as the wasted molding underneath the top. But the principle dominant feature of this bench is the wonderful carving that is on the legs and on the bench top apron. That carving by the way is equally impressive on the opposite side and the bench is heavy take my word for it. The second bench that I want to talk about is a much more formal style, a classically simple style. Take a careful look at this bench for example.

Note the picture frame molded top. What I mean by picture frame is there is a center panel flanked by wood just as it would be as if it were in a picture frame or in a window. Note also please the beautifully molded waist underneath the top, notice the carefully inset posts supporting the medial stretcher. Look also at the shape of the medial stretcher. Look at the raised top here, the opposite carving here and note also the beautiful cuffing on the feet. This bench has classic proportions. This bench style is frequently found but of its kind is a magnificent example of what I would call furniture architecture.

The third type of bench that I want to show you is this one right here. This has elements of the refinement that we saw in the preceding bench. It has peaches and other ornaments supporting the stretcher. And it has a bamboo top which you can see here. I'm sorry I'm not strong enough just to turn the bench over and show you the underneath side but this bench has a very firm wooden support underneath the bamboo. So the bamboo is really ornamental as opposed to being structural. This bench does lack some of the elements of the preceding bench.

It doesn't have the cuff feet. It is just a very simple stretcher. But it's a very beautiful country piece. This bench is a pure country bench probably used for restaurant seating or something like that. There is really nothing that is high style about it. it's just extremely simple. Although there have been several interesting concessions made to human comfort and that is the edges here have been rounded and smoothed so that somebody sitting on it isn't going to get a sharp leg edge in their leg. It's also, again, beautifully made.

And you can see the legs mortised straight through to the top. I wouldn't describe this bench as country; I would describe this bench as primitive. This bench was used obviously for chopping purposes -- built for strength, not for anything other than pure utilitarian purpose. Notice the thickness of the top, notice the thickness of the legs, and if I'm strong enough to show you, I'd like to show you all the cut marks that are in the top. The last bench I want to show you is again, a very, very primitive bench.

There is evidence this has been used for chopping but what I think is really kind of neat about this bench is the way in which it was simply made from a tree with its original branches used as feet. This concludes our series of videos on benches and be sure to visit our site Sign up please for our mailing list so that you can be alerted of additional videos as they're released and changes and updates to our Web site. Thanks so much for watching.