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Black lacquered scroll table

19th century

Black lacquered altar tableOrigin: Shanxi province

  • elm wood
  • 1630mm wide x 370mm deep x 890mm high

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The scroll table is one of the most popular pieces of furniture in scholars' homes for viewing paintings. Appreciating art is one of the core values of Chinese literati life. The characteristics of such furniture reflect the refined elegance of the time. Many scroll tables are double-sided so that they can be placed independently in the centre of the room for guests to stand around the table to enjoy the art.

This table has cloud motif spandrels on both sides, symbolising a wish for good fortune. There is a "ruyi" motif on the legs which symbolise good wishes. Above the ruyi motif there is a Buddhist "wan" character, a symbol of long life.

The black lacquer on the table is made by adding oxidised iron to the plum-reddish lacquer. This dark tone adds warmth and depth to the finish.

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