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Woods in Chinese Antiques - Cypress and Poplar Print E-mail

John Rogers: Hi, I'm John.

Yuqing Zhao: I'm Yuqing.

John Rogers: And we're here once again in our continuing series of videos on Chinese furniture. Today we're talking about the next two most commonly used woods used in Chinese furniture. You'll recall there were three woods that were used most frequently throughout the countryside -- elm, poplar and cypress. In another video we talked about elm. Today we're going to talk about poplar and cypress. Behind me is a poplar table. Yuqing, why don't you talk about the characteristics of poplar as wood?

Yuqing Zhao: Sure, this altar table was stained in dark black color before but from the faded parts we can tell this is a poplar wood because poplar is a type of wood that doesn't have predominant wood grain. It looks like one flat piece of wood with no grain or the wood grain is so dense you cannot tell that much. Again, this is a softer wood. It's lighter in weight as well.

John Rogers: And the other thing that I would just add to that is that this Chinese poplar is unlike American poplar in that it does not have the greenish cast to it that so much American poplar has. The next piece we're going to talk about is cypress. And Yuqing would you tell us the predominant characteristics of cypress?

Yuqing Zhao: Sure, cypress wood is soft wood again softer than elm. It's lighter in weight as well. And from the wood grain it looks similar to elm but not quite. Elm has the wood grain that looks to me like they're layers. And one layer is slightly higher than the other. It's more like the mountain map you can see from the center point is highest and a little lower just circle by circle. And cypress has a lot of knots. And this is a typical character that it has to tell that this is not elm.

John Rogers: To me when you look at cypress it resembles American pine very closely. So this concludes our series on the woods used in Chinese antique furniture -- elm, poplar and cypress. Thanks so much for watching and be sure to see our other videos.

Yuqing Zhao: Thank you.