Shanxi Yoke-Back Elm Armchair
Shanxi, circa 1880
Once finished completely in black lacquer, the seat and footrest of this classic chair have worn to the pale, natural colour of the elm wood. With the original lacquer still intact on most of the backrest and headrail, the result is a wonderful patina with a real sense of age and history. The chair is in a classic 'Yoke-Back' style that was one of the first to appear in China as its society moved from a mat level culture to raised seating, and the style remained largely unchanged for centuries. The curved, yoke shaped headrail gives the style its name, while curved arms protruding over similarly shaped supporting posts are also typical. The shallow 'S' shape of the backrest is another standard feature, designed to add comfort for the sitter.
In this case the usual mortise and tenon joints that fit the rear sideposts to the headrail are supported and strengthened with iron brackets - an original feature that is less common on antique Chinese chairs like this one. A simple carved apron at the front adds an elegant touch, extending down to the footrest. The legs are supported at each side with double stretchers. Once part of a pair, the chair is now a unique piece in a highly original condition.
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