Low Carved Altar Table
Shanxi, circa 1860
This lovely low table would make a wonderful, unusual TV stand in a modern home, or could be used as a coffee table. It was produced in Shanxi province towards the end of the nineteenth century, where it would have been used as a low altar table. Placed on a home's 'kang' - the raised platform that would be heated from below and provide the main living space during colder months - the table would provide a surface for ancestor offerings.
The table is beautifully made and in an elegant style, with finely carved spandrels to the front and back and a narrow carved apron across the front. The three drawers would have been lockable and used to store valuables or important documents. The raised, upwardly turned flanges at each side of the table top denote its religious purpose and the ends of the upper section of each one of these is carved with a simple scrolling pattern. The original dark finish is still present but worn to varying degrees on the front and top of the table, which shows several marks signs of its many years of use.
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