Chinese Nanmu Tea Table
Suzhou, circa 1860
During the Qing dynasty tall tea tables like this one became popular, set between a pair of chairs to serve tea or other refreshments in a reception room. This one is made from phoebe nanmu - a wood endemic to southern China and Vietnam that was highly sought after for boat construction and for furniture due to its resistance to decay. The table is from Suzhou to the west of Shanghai, an important centre for furniture production in Ming dynasty China. The table has a fixed shelf beneath the top surface, as well as a lattice shelf at the bottom. The aprons below the waisted table top are subtly curved with simple carvings that are typical of Suzhou furniture and the table still has its old lacquer, a now faded and worn reddish brown.