Ming & Qing Dynasty Chinese Furniture Quick Facts

Ming Furniture 

Speaking to the apex of Chinese furniture, Ming furniture is cherished for its valuable wood, agreeable configuration, straightforward enhancement and radiant craftsmanship. 


Ming furniture dates from the end of the Ming Dynasty, a transitional time in Chinese history. Amid the starting and the center of the Ming Dynasty, somberness was an administration decree. Later, however the economy increased significant development, individuals needed to stay low-keyed about their riches to maintain a strategic distance from high assessments. With the issuance of a strategy to bring down assessments, individuals at last found an answer for vent their characteristic slants. The vogue went past a rich and better than average life; extravagance and oddity turned into the style. Under such a social foundation, individuals, rich or poor, were allowed to wear brilliant and glorious garments and to fabricate huge houses; subsequently, lavish furniture was required. 

Social Features 

Researchers' interest considerably impacted the advancement of furniture. The old progressive convention obliged researchers to seek after otherworldly objectives and to not get included in craftsmanship. Be that as it may, Ming Dynasty researchers separated from their partners in past lines not by unusual dress, but rather by their novel enthusiasm for furniture outline, which helped it throw off inflexibility and create social importance. What's more, references to furniture by researchers abandon us important data. 

The researchers' feel helped Ming furniture take after a rich and common taste. The researchers got a handle on the quintessence of "toning it down would be ideal." Decoration for design's purpose was a lowbrow ability. In quality furniture, the composition of wood was completely used to uncover characteristic magnificence. Straightforward outline had nothing to do with efficiency; red sandalwood and scented rosewood spoke to crucial quality. Researchers had their uncommon advantages and inclinations. Little tables, vases, bibelots and incense burners made an exquisite air. 

Cupboards for books and collectibles differed in size and style. A table for a qin, a seven-stringed culled instrument, had a precious stone spread with a tin pool under it. In this tin pool, fish swam in gliding grass as if they were a move band. 

Indeed, even a bed was not only to sleep. A flexible bed made of stick ought to be sufficiently light to be moved around. A backrest was an absolute necessity so a researcher could either read books or appreciate the excellent view among trees and blossoms. A bed made of wood and bamboo from Hunan was for rests so the researcher could visit Dongting Lake in his fantasy! 

Penmanship styles and depictions by understood calligraphers and painters were engraved in work areas and seats, expanding the masterful and stylish estimation of the furniture. Zhou Tianqiu, a Ming calligraphy expert, was so enamored with his red sandalwood seat that he composed on the backrest, 'sitting on this seat, I feel one day is worth two days. In the event that I live for a long time, it would be worth 140 years.' 

Ming furniture highlights strong and valuable woods, for example, red sandalwood and scented rose wood, which. emanate lovely fragrances, normally including a touch of taste and beauty. Straightforward structure and insignificant adornment set off the regular magnificence of the wood. This significant effortlessness was accomplished without giving up solace. Experimental assurance for real shape was reflected in subtle elements, for example, bends, lines, stature, and size. 

Chinese conventional society underlines the positive exchange amongst nature and people. Applying thoughts from Zen and Tao, researchers and specialists committed their knowledge and energy to mirroring this brilliant principle in furniture, making the Golden Time of traditional furniture. 

Qing Furniture 

Wang's Compound, PingyaoAt the start of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), furniture took after Ming examples and styles. Amid the rule of Emperors Kangxi, Yong Zheng, and Qian Long, Qing Furniture demonstrated its own particular uniqueness with the ingestion of western craftsmanship. It was bigger in size with greatness and pomp. 

Imprinting was a mainstream and vital method for furniture beautification. The subjects range from promising character examples, to geometric examples and scenes in nature with creatures, mountains and waters, blossoms and grass. Shading painting, particularly gold painting, was broadly utilized. 

Chinese Furniture-Making Regions in China 

The focuses were shaped in Beijing, Shanxi, Guangzhou and Suzhou. 

In the Forbidden City in Beijing (Jing for short), the best skilled workers utilized the choicest wood to make Jing-styled furniture under the direction of the rulers. 

Furniture made in Guangdong (Guang for short) demonstrates the impact of Western craftsmanship. Rather than the Su-style, Guang-style is unstinting in the utilization of material, and the furniture looks strong and enormous. The Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family in Guangzhou has a showcase of Guang-styled furniture. 

Canton styled furniture, Qing Dynasty Furniture from Suzhou (Su for short) and encompassing region appreciates the most noteworthy creative quality. Suzhou gardens, for example, Lingering Garden , Garden of the Master of the Nets , Humble Administrator's Garden , Lion Grove Garden highlight valuable accumulations of Su-styled furniture. 

Furniture made in Shanxi (Jin for short) is a symphonious mixing of regal aura and nearby social legacy. Shanxi was one of the wealthiest spots in China amid the Qing Dynasty, of which Rishengchang Exchange Shop in Pingyao, the most punctual bank in China, is great confirmation. 

With the expanding significance of Jin vendors, business images rose, for example, designs concerning cash and fortune. Dissimilar to different styles, Jin-style has less etching; rather, trims of stone, porcelain and bone, which get the attention more effortlessly than lovely imprinting, are utilized to recount the lavish way of life of the proprietor. Furthermore, shading and gold painting turn into the vogue delineating the inclination for pretentiousness by the rich. Another element of Jin-styled furniture is the broadly connected walnut wood. 

The old Ming and Qing Streets, Qiao's Compound and Wang's Compound in Pingyao, Shanxi, give an adequate confirmation to the stylish and social accomplishment in Jin-style furniture. Chinese Ming and Qing Furniture Gallery of Shanghai Museum is a perfect spot to acknowledge different styles of established furniture. 

In the previous 20 years, Ming and Qing furniture has appreciated a hoisted notoriety as craftsmanship and as venture, and its quality is expanding

Beginners' Introduction & Background to Chinese Antique Furniture

The types of Chinese furniture advanced along three unmistakable heredities which goes back to 1000 BC taking into account edge and board, burden and rack (in light of post and rail found in engineering) and bamboo development strategies. Chinese home furniture developed freely of Western furniture into numerous comparable structures including seats, tables, stools, cupboards, informal lodging.

Social Context

What is currently viewed as the Chinese stylish had its birthplaces in China as far back as 1500-1000 BC. The furniture present in a portion of the work of art from that early period demonstrates woven mats on raised floors, some of the time joined by arm rests, giving seating joined by low tables. In this early period both unadorned and unpredictably engraved and painted pieces were at that point developing.

Buddhism, entering China around AD 200, carried with it the possibility of (the Buddha) sitting upon a raised stage rather than essentially tangles. The stage was received as a honorific seat for unique visitors and dignitaries or authorities. Longer forms were then utilized for leaning back also, which in the long run advanced into the quaint little inn. Taller adaptations developed into higher tables also. The collapsing stool additionally multiplied likewise, after it was adjusted from plans created by traveling tribes toward the North and West, who utilized them for both their comfort and light weight in numerous applications, for example, mounting stallions. Later, woven hourglass-formed stools developed; an outline still being used today all through China. 

A portion of the styles now broadly viewed as Chinese started seeming all the more conspicuously in the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). It is here that confirmation of early forms of the round and burden back seats are found, for the most part utilized by the tip top. By the following two Dynasties (the Northern and Southern Song) the utilization of differing sorts of furniture, including seats, seats, and stools was regular all through Chinese society. Two specific improvements were recessed legs and waisted tables. Fresher and more unpredictable outlines were for the most part constrained to official and higher class use. 

It was from this premise more cutting edge Chinese furniture built up its recognizing qualities. Utilization of thick polish complete and definite engravings and depictions and in addition down to earth outline components would keep on flourishing. Critical remote outline impact would not be felt until expanded contact with the West started in the nineteenth century, because of endeavors with respect to the decision world class to point of confinement exchange. 

Amid the Ming and Qing lines past bans on imports were lifted, taking into account bigger amounts and assortments of woods to surge in from different parts of Asia. The utilization of denser wood prompted much better work, including more involved joinery. A Ming Imperial table completely secured in cut finish, now in London, is one of the finest survivals of the period.

Four Classes 

Chinese furniture customarily comprised of four unmistakable classes, all framed by the mid Qing line, however each with its own novel attributes. 

Beijing classification (京式家具): described by its basic form, straightforwardly created from Ming Dynasty furnitures. 

Guangzhou classification (广式家具): fusing western impact, shaped in the nineteenth century. Described by the adoptation of the decrorative mounting of marble and the shells of shellfish. 

Shanghai classification (海式家具): portrayed by its decrorative figure and molded paint. 

Suzhou class (苏式家具): Opposite to the Beijing classification, described by its intricate enrichment, created from early Qing Dynasty furnitures.


Name | Chinese Translation | Plant Genus | Description

Huali wood    花黎木    Pterocarpus    Woods regularly from P. cambodianus, P. dalbergioides, P. erinaceus, P. indicus, P. macarocarpus, P. pedatus, and P. marsupium. This wood is referred to monetarily in the West as "padauk". 

Zitan wood    紫檀木    Dalbergia    Woods from Dalbergia nigra, a burgendy-dark wood that oxidizes into a purple-dark shading. Profoundly esteemed 

Hong suanzhi wood    紅酸枝木   Dalbergia Reddish shaded woods that have a sharp/bitter notice when crisply cut. The forested areas are regularly from D. bariensis, D. cearensis, D. ochinchinensis, D. frulescensvar, D. granadillo, D. oliveri, D. retusa 

Hei suanzhi wood    黑酸枝木   Dalbergia Dark shaded woods that have a sharp/bitter notice when crisply cut. The forested areas are regularly from D. cultrate, D. fusca, D. latifolia, D. louvelii, D. melanoxylon, D. nigra, D. spruceana, and D. stevensonii 

Xiangzhi wood    香枝木   Dalbergia The wood from Dalbergia odorifera and known normally by the name "Huanghua li" (黄花梨, actually yellow blossomed pear) or "Jiangxiang huangtan" (降香黄檀, truly Fragrant yellow hardwood). This is a standout amongst the most esteemed and customarily utilized hardwoods for Chinese furniture before its overharvesting from Chinese residential sources. 

Wu/Yinchen wood    烏木/陰沉木    Diospyros    Typically alludes to woods from Diospyros crassiflora, Diospyros ebenum, Diospyros pilosanthera, and D. poncei, which are known as coal black in the west. Name is in some cases mixed up connected to Dalbergia nigra. 

Tiaowen wu wood    條紋烏木    Woods from trees of class Diospyros with clear dull and light striations. Mainly Diospyros blancoi, Diospyros celebica and Diospyros melanoxylon. 

Jichi wood    雞翅木    Millettia and Other genus    Woods which have a finely designed, high differentiation grain that is like the plumes of certain flying creatures, for example, chickens and partridges. The wood is taken normally from Millettia laurentii (非洲崖豆木), Millettia leucantha (白花崖豆木), Ormosia hosiei(相思木), and either Senna siamea or Mesua ferrea (鐵力木) [6] additionally from a wide assortment of sort and species including, Terminalia tomentosa, Diplotropis purpurea, Hymenolobium excelsum, Andira inermis, and Steculit oblonga.


Great Chinese furniture is regularly made of a class of hardwoods, referred to altogether as "rosewood" (紅木, truly "red wood"). These woods are denser than water, fine grained, and high in oils and gums. These properties make them dimensionally steady, hardwearing, decay and creepy crawly safe, and when new, profoundly fragrant. The thickness and strength of the wood likewise permits furniture to be worked without the utilization of paste and nail, yet rather developed from jointery and doweling alone. As per the Chinese business guidelines the forested areas are assembled into eight classes:


Development of customary wooden Chinese furniture is based fundamentally of strong wood pieces associated exclusively utilizing carpentry joints, and once in a while utilizing paste or metallic nails. The reason was that nails and pastes utilized did not stand up well to the tremendously fluctuating temperatures and damp climate conditions in the majority of Central and South-East Asia.[7] As well, the exceptionally slick and resinous woods utilized as a part of Chinese furniture don't stick well, notwithstanding when pre-cleaned with present day mechanical solvents. 

Stage development depends on box plans and uses casing and-board development in basic structure amid prior periods advancing into more changed structures in later periods. While prior pieces indicate full edge and-board development procedures, distinctive parts of the development were changed during that time to create various looking pieces which still have the same fundamental development. To start with the board, initially finish, is liable to remove areas, trailed by further decrease to what may have all the earmarks of being basically ornamental sections. Further refinement of the same example lead the state of the enhancing sections being joined into the state of the encompassing edge and at the same time the two mitered vertical pieces involving a corner get to be one strong piece. Pieces begin to have little cross-pieces connected to the base of the feet instead of a casing that is equivalent on all sides lastly, with development of the perplexing carpentry joints that permit it, the cross-pieces are evacuated, leaving an advanced table with 3-way mitered corners. Dissimilar to European-inferred styles, table plans taking into account this style will about dependably contain an edge in-board best, the board serving as the tabletop focus and the edge once in a while likewise serving as what might be rails on an European table. Cupboards in this style have a top that does not jut past the sides or front. The basic component in all bits of this write is the mitered joints, particularly the 3-way mitered joining of the leg and two even pieces at every corner. 

The Yoke and Rack development contrasts basically in the way that the legs of the piece are joined to the level part (be it tabletop, seat or bureau corpse) utilizing a kind of wedged mortise-and-tenon joint where the end grain of the leg is unmistakable as a circle in the edge of the tabletop. The cross-pieces (stretchers in the western proportionate) are joined through mortise-and-tenon joinery too. The legs and stretchers are generally round instead of square or curvilinear. The least complex pieces are just four spread legs connected to a strong top, however more convoluted pieces contain ornamental sections, drawers and metal locks. Cupboards in this style commonly have an overhanging top like western-style cabinetry. 

Bamboo development style, albeit truly established in pieces produced using bamboo, later saw numerous pieces produced using hardwood with designing to copy the look of bamboo, or basically in the style of past pieces produced using bamboo. The development is more like the Yoke and Rack style with some obvious hybrid.


Yumu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Northern Elm, Ulmus L.

The sapwood of Northern Elm is yellowish-brown; the heartwood, a slight chestnut brown. The wood is difficult to dry and easily develops cracks. The material is of medium density (.59-.64 g/cm3) and hardness, and with the exception of Siberian elm, has relatively low strength. The material is somewhat resistant to decay and easy to work. Because the wood is ring porous, with a wave-like patterning in the growth rings of the late wood, the tangential surface often reveals a layered, feather-like figure that is popular for furniture-making.

A very popular furniture-making wood that grows throughout northern China, Northern Elm is different to Zelkova, which has a similar appearance and is also commonly called Elm or Southern Elm.

There are over twenty varieties of elm which are widely distributed tree throughout China, but more highly concentrated in the northern regions. Northern varieties noted for producing furniture-making timber include the Japanese Elm (chunyu (U. davidiana var. japonica)), which reaches 30 meters in height and 1 meter in diameter, and the somewhat smaller Manchurian Elm (lieye yu (U. laciniata)). These, along with the more broadly distributed Siberian Elm (bai yu (U. pumila)) all share similar characteristics.

Chinese Elm (lang yu (U. parviflora)) is more concentrated in the southern tropical regions, but is also found throughout Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei. Its coffee-colored heartwood may also relate to the furniture-making wood popularly called Purple Elm (ziyu). This timber is also difficult to dry, easy to warp and split, but considerably denser (±.90 g/cm3) and harder than the other varieties. It has high structural strength, but the grain patterning is not as striking as Japanese Elm or Siberian Elm; it is also more difficult to work.

Taomu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Pear Wood

Pear wood is very hard to the extent that it requires the sharpest tools to carve.  However, this produces magnificent detail in the shapes of carvings achieved.  

Rather than having any prominent lines running through it lines running through it, visually it is characterised by waves of changes in its colour. from a light grey to purple-tinged brown sandwiching its pink-brown core.

Pear Wood was more popular in fact for making musical instruments.  Craftsmen often regard Pear Wood as a "well mannered" wood referring to the the pleasant odour and feel of the wood, it's non-irritating characteristic and the way freshly planed silky shavings reveal beautiful new layers of colour and hue.

Huangyangmu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Boxwood, Buxus L

Boxwood generally has a straight grain and grows very slowly, typically reaching only 10-15 cm in diameter after 100 years.  It is has an soil-like fragrance and is easy to split.  

Due to its cell density, the furniture finish using Boxwood is very smooth and lustre after polishing.  Numerous varieties of Boxwood are found throughout China including Hubei, Jiangxi, and Sichuan. Given the limited size of this wood, it is not often used for full-sized pieces of furniture, but instead, carved objects or as decorative inlays.

Huaimu Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Chinese Locust, Robinia Pseudoacacia L

Very strong timber resistant to damp and insects whilst unevenly textured and susceptible to developing large cracks.

Locust is grown throughout China but best known as coming from northern China. The timber is hard and very strong and pores in the early wood can be relatively large; the grain is relatively straight and it is easy to dry with minimal warping.

Shanmu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Chinese Fir

Although not generally a strong wood, some varieties are hard and dense enough for furniture. The grain is straight and even and the colour ranges from a light cream to brown. 

Shanmu wood can be found higher than 2000 metres above sea level and it is deemed as "common wood" used for cabinets, buckets and stools, notably in the Fujian province, where it grows in abundance.  Shanmu is prevalent in furniture of from Southern Chinese provinces.

​Nanmu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Nanmu (genus / species is Phoebe nees) and Nanmu Burl (genus / species is douban nan)

Nanmu is a tree that is very resistant to decay and grows large and slowly developing up to 50 to 100cm in diameter and maintaining a straightness along its trunk.  

There are over 30 species of Nanmu's color span a colour spectrum of olive-brown to a reddish-brown. Some species of Nanmu have a looser grain structuring and paler colour and are deemed as inferior.

Ming Dynasty literature references Nanmu Burl as a highly regarded type of wood preferred for cabinets, particularly doors and top panels as well as scholar pieces.  In addition, it is often used for general carpentry and boat construction due to the stability and strength against bending or splitting.  

Nanmu bears a strong pungency in odour when cut and delivers a glistening-smooth polished finish. 

Nanmu is present along the Yangzi River with and is an indigenous to Hainan Island and Vietnam.

Zhennan (True Nanmu) from Sichuan and Guizhou, zinan (Purple Nanmu) from the southeastern and south-central regions, and hongmaoshan nan (Hongmao Mountain Nanmu) from Hainan Island are generally considered to produce the finest timber.  

Jumu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Southern Elm, Zelkova Schneideriana

Juju's sapwood is slightly darker than its heartwood, which varies from yellowish brown to coffee-brown. Southern Elm is found throughout China with larger concentrations in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui provinces as well as Korea and Japan, where it is referred to often as Keyaki. Typical dimensions are 30 meters in height of the arbor and 1.5 meters for the trunk.

Jiangsu craftsmen traditionally divide Jumu into three types: yellow ju (Huangju), red ju (Hongju), and blood ju (Xueju). Factors including the age of the tree are thought to account for these variations in color as well as ranging densities (63-.79 g/cm3). The Blood ju is the most acclaimed and has a reddish-brown color as well as feathery like figure in the tangential surface.

Jumu (not to be confused with Yumu / Northern Elm) is a popular wood for making furniture in the Suzhou region. The difference between Jumu and Yumu is that Jumu has a more refined ring porous structure is also comparatively denser and stronger.

Jichimu in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Chicken Wing Wood, Ormosia

The distinctive nick name for this hardwood is based on its grain's resemblence to feathers when cut in a tangent geometry.  Its colour is deep brown with a grey pattern.  It is a rosewood and not as dense as Hongmu and Huanghuali.

Jichimu wood is indigenous to Hainan Island and is classified botanically as in the Ormosia genus (twenty-six species of which are in China). An abundance of Jichimu furniture can be located in Fujian province.

We have buyers for fine Jichimu Antique furniture.  Sell your Jichimu furniture.

Huanghuali in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  "Yellow Flowering Pear", Dalbergia Odorifera

Huanghuali is classified as a rosewood, hence its genus and physically a dense hardwood with a sweet fragrance and colour ranging from honey to purple brown.  As it ages, a yellowish patina emerges. It has a distinctive wave like grain that mirrors mountainous landscape.

The main source of Huanghuali is in Hainan Island, China and North Vietnam.

Possibly the most sought after wood, particularly among Chinese buyers, Huanghuali is considered highest quality and superior of hardwoods. Furniture and scholar items made from this wood command some of the highest prices in the Chinese Antiques market due to its arguably extinct status.

When trade policies were revised in 1572, permitting the import of wood from South East Asia, the hardwood furniture era began.

Many Huanghuali tables, chairs, desks, screens and cabinets originate from the Ming and early Qing Dynasty periods. During this period, there was actually little distinction between Loahuali and Hongmu. Loahuali is catagorised in the same genus but with a wider grain and many small knots, whereas Hongmu is darker and has a less aggressive grain profile.

Hongmu Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Blackwood

Very similar hardwood to Zitan but lacking the shiny surface and unusual grain.

Prevalent in Qing Dynasty period furniture from southern China. Often mistaken and difficult to distinguish from Huanghuali. Popular with coastal Chinese, such as Taiwanese, Cantonese, and Shanghainese collectors

Hetaomu Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Walnut

With an open grained texture, it is similar to Nanmu (more olive-toned) in appearance. There a several variants of walnut cultivated in China.  

From the north, True walnut is reddish brown with a dark streaked pattern. There is also the Manchurian walnut found in the north but that has a lower density and lighter colour. Because True Walnut is generally cultivated for its fruit rather than timber, Manchurian Walnut is often used as a substitute.

Heitanmu Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification:  Black Ebony

Hardwood, often used for knife handles, piano keys and cabinets, very heavy and derived from heartwood.

Known for its jet black color, ebony varies from deep black to dark red, with a variety of rich dark shades. Generally, the darker ebony is found at higher altitudes and from older trees.  Ebony is a scarce and costly wood.

Camphor Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Camphor, Cinnamomum Camphora

Softwood, easily bruised, yellowish to warm brown colour and not so popular for furniture making except for storage chests due to its smell that repels insects. The wood is light to medium in density and is relatively stable, with a fine, even texture.

It is found across southern China, mainly on Hainan Island, Taiwan, Jiangxi and Fujian. Part of the laurel family, camphor trees grow to up to 50 metres in height and can reach up to 5 metres in diameter. The reddish-brown heartwood contrasts against the much paler sapwood, giving an attractive grain. In some varieties this is particularly pronounced. 


Baimu Wood in Chinese Furniture

Alternate name / botanical classification: Cypress / Cedar, Cupressus L.

Softwood, strong fragrance, slow to dry, resistant to rot and insect damage.

Often used as miscellaneous softwood. Weeping cypress from Sichuan province is highly regarded for its timber and reaches up to two metres high.