Dongbei Red Painted Sideboard
Dongbei, circa 1920
The simple, square cornered style, red lacquer finish and painted geometric pattern of this sideboard are all typical of the cabinets produced in Manchuria (the northeast or 'Dongbei' region of China). These pieces would be used in a similar way to altar cabinets, with an ancestor portrait placed above and joss sticks and other offerings placed on top. The red lacquer finish would once have been more vibrant, but is still in a lovely rich red. The paintings, with various flowers, birds, fish and butterflies set within geometric shapes in gold, are faded but still quite clear.
As well as the flora and fauna there are various characters for good luck, prosperity and 'double happiness' included on the central door panels. Like most old Dongbei furniture, the cabinet is made from pine wood and the top surface is in a rich, dark brown lacquer that contrasts with the red front. Unusually, the hinges and door hardware are original and the doors are double hinged to open out completely for easy access to the interior. The post between the two central doors is removable. With its deep red finish and intricate, original paintings this is a nice example of a distinctive style of Chinese cabinet and would provide attractive storage space in any room.
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