Double Sided Shanxi Cabinet
Shanxi, circa 1900
This wonderful old cabinet is in a style that is quite particular to Shanxi province in central China. It dates from the beginning of the last century and, unusually, still has its old lacquer finish and original hinges and door hardware. The narrow proportions make it easy to fit into any space, with a simple profile adorned only with the brassware. The everted ends of the top surface give the cabinet a distinctive Chinese character and denote it's original purpose both for storage and as an altar cabinet for family worship.
The double doors extend to around two thirds of the way down, with a fixed panel below each door. The doors open to reveal two sections inside with a central divider. Each section has a shallow drawer at the top, with a newly fitted handle, along with a fixed central shelf. The space inside below each shelf extends down below the bottom of the doors to give extra storage. The inside of each door is split into two panels, with each panel decorated with a red floral design that contrasts with the aged and crackled black lacquer base. The drawer fronts have a moulded detail and are also decorated in red with a simple, scrolling pattern.
The thick black lacquer here would have been applied over a fabric base that would have helped to bind the finish in place, and has aged over the decades to give an unsual, slightly uneven look. There are areas where the lacquer has worn or chipped, most noticeably to the rear right hand side of the top surface at the join with the everted flange. Rather than refinishing with new lacquer, we have left this in its current condition as part of the character of this lovely antique. Similarly the doors no longer sit completely flush with the surrounding frames.
We rarely come across this type of cabinet when sourcing antiques nowadays and this is a lovely example, still in a highly original condition and with its own unique character formed over the years.
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