Small Gansu Storage Cabinet
Gansu, circa 1890
This lovely little cabinet is made from thick pine in a style common to storage units produced in eastern Gansu or Inner Mongolia and used to hold grain. It has most likely been modified for use today as a storage cabinet by cutting a larger unit down and by adding a door in the front using what was originally a fixed panel. As a grain holder the inside would be accessed only by removing a half board in the top, which has since been sealed.
The cabinet's colours are typical of this type of piece, with the chunky pine outer frames in black lacquer and contrasting red and cream used for the front. The central paintings in monochrome depict vases of flowers and other personal possessions - again a common theme that was designed to show the owner's high status. The colours would once have been much more vibrant, but have faded over time to more subtle tones. The black lacquer outer frame in particular has worn in parts to add to the aged, antiquated look.
With a single removable shelf inside, the cabinet would provide useful storage space in a bedroom or living room and an unusual talking piece in any setting.
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