Three Drawer Carved Coffer
Shanxi, circa 1860
This stunning chest of drawers once served as a storage coffer for valuables. The two upper drawers, with their beautiful floral decoration in carved relief, are original, but the bottom drawer has been added for practicality. When the coffer was made this lower space would have been accessible only by removing the drawers above, providing a secure area for storing money or prized possessions. The spandrels at each side of the coffer taper down from an extended top surface and are beautifully carved, as is the bottom apron. The coffer also has its old dark colour, now largely worn to leave a wonderful patina. The top surface in particular is full of character, showing signs of use of the decades. Scorch marks towards the front suggest that the coffer perhaps doubled as an altar table for offerings to ancestors.