Rosewood Elder's Chair
Jiangsu, circa 1860
Made from heavy rosewood in Jiangsu province, Eastern China, this impressive chair would have been designated for the use of household elders. It dates from the mid nineteenth century and is in a design that appeared later on in China's history - heavier and more ornate than the simple, elegant style of Ming furniture. The scrolling arms and posts of the upper part of the chair are stepped with S shapes and end in stylised dragons. The deep, waisted seat is over thick legs that end in shallow, horse hoof feet.
The wide backrest is divided into three panels, each featuring intricate carvings. The lower section is carved through with a simple floral pattern, while the upper two sections feature wonderful relief carvings. The main, central panel depicts a single, bearded figure raising a 'Fuchen' - a long handled whip or whisk made of horsehair - and this is shown again in the panel above.
The Fuchen was used by Taoist and Buddhist monks, as a symbol for cleansing impure and evil thoughts and bad energy. The monks would head into the wilderness taking only their whisk, which they believed helped to combat evil influences. However, like many objects in monastic life the Fuchen also doubled as a weapon - used to block and counter attacks by sword or to disarm an assailant.
The Fuchen evidently held some important meaning for the original owner of the chair and the carvings are quite unusual. With its impressive proportions and heavy, elaborate design, the chair would today make a great statement piece in a hallway or corner of a living space.
$45.00 delivery to most UK mainland addresses