Qinghai Display Cabinet with Paintings
Qinghai, circa 1880
This large, black lacquer cabinet with an upper shelf is from Qinghai and the style and finish is distinctive of the region. In the majority of cases cabinets like this are taken by restoration workshops in China and cut down by removing the upper section to form a more practical style sideboard. This one has been left in its original state, with the upper space, including its carved outer frame, still intact. Originally the cabinet would have held documents or books, with prized objects displayed at the top, and it would still make a beautiful display cabinet or book cabinet today. Though less brighter than they once were, the paintings are still largely intact. The decoration on the doors and front panels, showing vases of flowers and other valuable artefacts, is standard on this type of piece and served to show the owner's rank and status. As was the custom in Qinghai, the two doors are set centrally within the cabinet, with a fixed panel at either side. This was designed to make it difficult to access the furthest parts of the space inside, thereby deterring any would be thieves.