Gansu Black Lacquer Coffer
Gansu, circa 1900
This beautiful black lacquer coffer is from Gansu in western China. It would once have been used to store money or valuables, the drawers being secured with a heavy brass plate that could be locked into position. The lacquer and wonderful paintings of flowers in now faded creams and greens, are original. The style, with shaped spandrels that taper down to the feet, is sometimes referred to as a butterfly design. Originally the bottom drawer would have been a fixed panel, with the space behind accessible only by removing the upper drawers (creating an extra secure storage space). To turn the coffer into a more practical set of drawers for modern use this has been converted into a door to form a small cabinet section.