Black Lacquer Shanxi Wedding Cabinet
Shanxi, circa 1900
This stunning cabinet is a lovely example of the furniture produced as part of a bride's dowry in Shanxi province, often referred to as wedding cabinets. This one is in its original black lacquer finish, still with the old paintings in pale creams and pinks, providing a beautiful contrast against the dark background. The paintings would once have been more vivid and show lillies and other flowers as well as, on the right hand door, a pheasant - a bird sometimes interchanged with a phoenix as a symbol of beauty and good fortune. the doors are set directly into the cabinet frames on wooden dowels rather than being mounted on metal hinges, providing a larger, uninterrupted surface for the artwork.
There are further paintings on the bottom panel below the doors, now quite faded and worn. These show various scholarly items including a flower vase set centrally, designed to indicate the importance and high rank of the owner. The frames around the doors are decorated with symbols including stylised dragons and long life circles, again now quite worn but more visible at the top - most likely retouched more recently.
The door hardware is a new replacement for the original - lost over the years or possibly removed during the Great Leap Forward for smelting. Inside there are two removable shelves as well as a removable board at the bottom, giving access to the space behind the lower panel. Slightly shallower in proportion than other similar cabinets, this would make a wonderful statement piece in a living room or would provide unusual bedroom storage space.
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