Eight Dragon Carved Altar Table
Shanxi, circa 1830
This very large, solid looking console was used as an altar table to display favoured possessions and offerings to ancestors. Unusually, it has a solid panel between each set of legs with relief carvings on each side showing simple landscapes and a bird - possibly a pheasant to symbolise high rank. It has a very thick top and legs, with the everted, raised table ends that were a feature of tables with a religious function like this one. The large, ornately carved spandrels at the top of each set of legs (front and back) show scrolling dragons. Wider and deeper than most Chinese altar tables, it is very solid and heavy and would certainly have shown off the wealth and status of its original owner. Made from elm and with a beautiful, rich brown finish, it would today make a very imposing large console.
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