Personal tools

Kang furniture

19 170Low furniture has the generic term of kang furniture. The kang is a feature of many homes, particularly in northern China. It is a platform at about knee height made from brick or timber. It is hollow underneath and can be heated by burning fuel directly underneath it or, in the case of timber kangs, by running a flue from a nearby stove. Bedding is placed on it and during winter all household activities are conducted including eating, sleeping and socialising. Kangs therefore are often quite large to accommodate several people. The furniture is low because people are on the kang, not on higher seats. In the warmer months pieces such as small tables could be used on day beds.

19 040In terms of style and design some kang furniture reflects larger traditional furniture. This shows the level of appreciation people had for the furniture as well as the skill of the cabinetmakers to produce miniature versions of other standard furniture.

Kang cabinets came in a variety of sizes and combinations of doors and drawers. The flat surfaces were ideal for placing folded quilts during the day. Some have secret storage accessed by pulling out the drawer to reveal a hidden space. Others have a lockable compartment. These sturdy pieces would have been placed on the floor during warmer months.

kangtableThe kang table was an indispensable part of the household. They were used not just on the kang but on other beds as well. Small and portable, the table was used for many activities including serving tea, writing, playing board games. Larger ones were used when more than one or two people were gathered. The designs varied so they might have drawers for storing smaller items.