Altar Table with Carved Dragons
Shanxi, circa 1860
This impressive altar table stands at nearly three metres wide, is made from solid elm wood and is in a classic Chinese design. Large tables like this one were used in the main formal reception area of a Chinese home, usually placed against the rear wall as a focal point. They would be used to hold the icons and incense associated with ancestor worship, as well as for displaying prized possessions. This one is from Shanxi in central China and has the recessed legs and upward pointing table ends that were typical of this type of table. At the head of each of the legs, both front and back, the spandrels are beautifully decorated with open carvings showing dragons. Once in a dark lacquer, the finish has worn over the years to leave the beautiful, softer tones seen here.