Our pick of the Chinese antiques arriving next week

Our pick of the Chinese antiques arriving next week

We have another container from Beijing due to arrive with us next week, chock full of Chinese antiques and accessories for the home that I selected during my last visit back in April.

Most of these pieces have been up on our website for a while so you can already view and order your favourites, but we will be busy over the coming weeks photographing an extra dozen or so antiques off this container that weren’t photographed in China so look out for these soon. They include several beautiful elm and walnut consoles as well as some quite rare red lacquer Shanxi cabinets, all from a new supplier I came across in Beijing quite recently.

Along with furniture we will be taking delivery of the new wall art (some lovely new Chinese ancestor paintings and Tibetan art), stoneware, bronzes and carved wooden figures that I also chose during my trip in April.

With the new container nearly here I thought this would be a good time to pick out just one or two of my own picks – the more unusual or special items of furniture that will be arriving next week.

First of these is an old two door cabinet from Shanxi province, with a wonderfully carved heavy base and old brass hardware. For reasons I’m never entirely sure of, this type of piece is referred to these days as a ‘book cabinet’, even though it’s purpose originally would have been for more general storage in a bedroom or reception area. The cabinet would once have been one of a pair, with each one being made to sit on top of a matching, much larger cabinet to form a tall storage unit.

The upper part of the cabinet is quite simple in style, with recessed door panels, beading around the frames and traditional wooden dowel hinges. The base though, is decorated with wonderful deep relief carvings. The central recessed panel is made up of an intricate geometric pattern that includes seven swastikas – an auspicious symbol in both Buddhism and Chinese Taoism for good fortune and prosperity.

We have sold a few similar cabinets in the past and have a similar one in black lacquer also available right now, but the original red colour, brass handles and detailed carvings make this cabinet one of my favourites.

Carved Detail of Shanxi Book Cabinet Shanxi Book Cabinet Detail of Gansu Painted Cabinet Gansu Painted Cabinet

Also arriving next week is another cabinet that really stood out for me when I was over in Beijing. This one is a large sideboard from Gansu province in the west of China and what’s special in this case are the wonderful, original thick red lacquer and old paintings. The cabinet has been restored with a new shellac finish and adapted for use as a modern sideboard, but still retains all of its old character.

Originally the doors at either side of the central drawers would have been fixed panels, with the areas inside accesed by removing a half board lid in the top. Unusually, the restorer has kept the half boards intact rather than sealing them – something I think is a nice nod to the furniture’s original purpose and which adds extra charm.

The paintings on each door show detailed landscapes of mountains and trees, with figures picked out in the centre. I love the way that the once bright colours have been toned down with age, so that the soft cream background and darker colours of the mountains contrast beautifully with the deep red that surrounds them.

You’ll also notice futher paintings in monochrome on the central part of the cabinet, below the central drawer. Between this drawer and the two smaller ones above are the traces left in the lacquer by the old, heavy circular lock plate that would have been used to secure this part of the cabinet. You’ll also see the ring hardware above each door that once allowed the half board lids to be locked in place.

As a statement piece in a modern home you’re unlikely to find anything finer than this and the sideboard’s size and proportions make it ideal either as a dining room buffet or as an impressive stand for a large TV.

With this particular container due in we are already looking to ship the next – we’re just finalising the last few antiques to ship along with a few new reproduction pieces from a couple of our regular suppliers in Beijing. I’m hoping we’ll have photos of most of this new selection soon so look out for these in the ‘new arrivals‘ part of our website over the coming weeks!

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