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Chinese Chairs

In early Chinese history, excavated images indicate that Chinese chairs were likely not developed until 500 B.C. Then, at the emergence of China’s first chairs, the Chinese demonstrate a seamless merging of artistic decoration with functional form.

The Chinese developed several types of seating. Large barrel-shaped stools, made of ceramic or strong lacquered wood, were primarily made for enjoying a garden outdoors. These stools were hollow in the inside and consisted of ornate carvings and paintings on the outer surface. Most chairs were made of wood, starting from the early design of the yoke back chair which spawned multiple adaptations over time.

Yoke back chairs were characterized by a curved top rail that dips furthest back towards the middle, and extends forward and back again on either side like a wave. This form had two straight wooden beams connecting the seat to the top rail, and one wider wood piece serving as a backrest called a splat.

Later, U-shaped or horseshoe-shaped chairs were developed. For the most part, the wood grain on early Chinese chairs was preserved by absence of elaborate decoration. In later years, though, the center splat backs tended to become more ornamented.


Quick Facts

  • Early Chinese chairs or stools emerged as influenced by foreigners. Nomads or foreigners from the northern or western regions used a folding stool to mount horses, which eventually became popular to use for sitting during hunting or traveling
  • Zitan, also known as Red Sandalwood, was the hardest and therefore most preferred hardwood for creating Chinese chairs. During the Ming dynasty, this wood was almost entirely wiped out due to popularity. Rosewood, or “huanghuali," was more commonly used instead
  • The U-shaped chair became inspiration for Hans Wegner’s wishbone chair designs. Hans Wegner is an extremely influential 20th century Danish designer

Recommended Items at Auction

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A Chinese mother-of-pearl inlaid corner chair
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A GOOD PAIR OF 19TH CENTURY CHINESE HARDWOOD SIDE CHAIRS
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Dec 03, 9:30 AM EST
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Set (3) Large Antique Chinese Inlaid Chairs As-Is
Dec 01, 9:00 AM PST
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Dec 07, 9:30 AM CET
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A Chinese yellow-ground famille rose stool, late 19th century
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Sellers Who Sell Chinese Chairs


Nagel Auction

Nagel Auction

McKenzies Auctioneers

McKenzies Auctioneers

Veritas Art Auctioneers

Veritas Art Auctioneers

Aste Boetto SRL

Aste Boetto SRL