Five Drawer Carved Coffer
Shanxi, circa 1800
This wonderful old coffer, with two large and three small drawers, still has its old red and black lacquer - once vibrant but now crackled and worn back to show the elm wood below the surface. The chest is from Shanxi in central China, and would have been used to store valuables. The drawers are each set within rounded frames, and an extended top surface sits over the thick, rounded legs. Whilst the upper drawers show light relief carving in the form of 'ruyi' - a sceptre with magical powers that was a common symbol on Shanxi furniture - the deeper carvings on the three smaller drawers are particularly nice. Each one shows a different Chinese character, namely 'lu (a deer) and 'shou' for long life and 'fu' for good luck.