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Different Types of Chinese Antiques PDF Print E-mail

John Rogers: Hi my name is John and I'm sorry Yuqing is not with us today. You have been wonderful in your response to our series of videos on Chinese antique furniture. You have given us more questions that suggest hundreds of additional videos. Obviously we're limited on that. So we're going to take some of the most basic questions you've asked and try to provide adequate responses to your questions. The first question was could we give you some better idea of the various types of Chinese furniture that was used by everyday people that is available in this country today for use in your home.

That's the purpose of today's overview. There are many different types of furniture that are available to fit into the modern household. Look at these two tables. They are both called "kang" tables*. This table was at its original height commonly used for dining or for playing cards or whatever. This started off life the same height as this table but was cut down to make it coffee table size, different uses for the same type of furniture. This piece over here is typical of the large buffets that are available in China -- very large, very big, but wonderful for storage, kids toys, liquor cabinets that sort of thing.

There are also a tremendous number of kinds of benches in Chinese furniture. Some short, some long, some with bamboo tops, some highly decorated. They make terrific coffee tables as well as good places to take off shoes in entryways and so forth. There's one other thing that I really want to show and to demonstrate here because I think this room does it best and that is architectural fragments.

These happen to be architectural fragments from a destroyed bridge. But as China builds it tends to destroy many original houses and replace them. And hence, you have doors and windows, different kinds of doors, architectural fragments and more windows that are frequently available and very beautiful and add beautiful decoration to the modern house.

One last thing before we leave, there are many tables and there are many chests of various sizes which are also very adaptable, usable and fit in beautifully with American decor. Everyone has heard of Chinese herbal medicine. The herbs and roots used in the medicine are kept in apothecary chests. I find apothecary chests very interesting because they're compartmentalized drawers and many drawers for the various kinds of herbs and let's take a look at one of them.

Here you can see this drawer and all the others in this particular chest are divided into four compartments. And the names of what would go into with each compartment are shown on the front of each drawer. This apothecary chest is the same thing except you can see the compartments but the calligraphy or names are gone from the front. Earlier we spoke about architectural fragments and these are some carved ceiling fragments that were again rescued from houses scheduled for demolition.

This is a brush pot for calligraphy brushes incredibly made out of a hollowed out tree. And this is a Chinese hat box which is made of bent wood and paper. The particular paper lining here has a great deal of calligraphy written on it. There are many different chests available of many different and sundry sizes in China. I've selected here two examples of a very frequently found chest called Mongolian type chests.

They most frequently come from Inner Mongolia region and are characterized by two drawers on the top over two doors. Frequently as in these cases, there's paint on the drawer fronts and the door fronts are painted. I also wanted to show you an example of a table screen.

This is a two part screen, a screen that sits in the base. It does come in much larger varieties but this is a tabletop one and is pictured on the front the stellar trio which we've discussed in one of our earlier videos. And over here is a child's clothes rack. And if you take this out about five times you have an adult clothes rack. And the custom was to put the clothes over the top of the rail.

This concludes our videos on the various types Chinese furniture that's available. It's a real simple overview. If you want to see more and you want to learn more, please visit our Web site and sign up for our newsletter so that you'll be alerted as to when we release additional videos and update the Web. Thanks so much for watching.

*Note: In this video, John called two tables ""kang" tables. In reality, he meant to say "baxian" tables. Baxian refers to the eight immortals. Kang refers to tables used on top of kangs which are heated platforms used to ward off the winter chill.