Dongbei Red Sideboard
Dongbei, circa 1900
This style of cabinet is unique to the Dongbei (northeast) region of China, where it would have served a similar purpose to an altar table, with a family ancestor portrait hung above and offerings placed on top. Finished in a deep red lacquer, it is decorated on the doors and bottom apron with paintings of butterflies and flowers including peonies - a symbol for nobility and high rank. The stylised Chinese characters towards the left and right of the bottom apron are for 'double happiness', often used to denote good luck in a marriage. Originally only the central doors would have been in place, but the panels at each side have been hinged on wooden dowels to allow the full access to the space inside, which includes a removable shelf.
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