Carved Camphor Storage Chest
Jiangsu, circa 1860
This unusual storage chest is made from camphor wood, with a lid opening up to a single storage space in the top section and two drawers below. It features wonderful relief carvings on three sides and on the top, with each of the carved sections finished in a dark lacquer that contrasts with the surrounding frames and legs. The deep carvings depict scenes from Chinese legend - various figures shown in a setting of rivers, mountaings rooftops and bridges. The lid is secured with a small, decorative clasp.
Camphor was a popular choice for blanket boxes and storage chests in China, not only for its attractive grain and colour but also as it retains a pleasant aroma that acts as a natural insect repellent, keeping any contents free from moths and beetles. It is also easy to carve and so was often used to add decorative carved panels onto larger cabinets.
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