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Chinese Chests

Chinese chests are usually made of hardwood with brass hinges and clasps, and consist of all storage containers – large or small – with a lid. Because they traditionally tried to keep most things out of sight when not in use, the Chinese didn't consider chests a necessity. Chinese chests or trunks were used primarily to store away seasonal clothing, but they have also been used to transport silk, tea, and porcelain wares from China to other countries.

Chests usually have one large compartment inside, but it is not unusual for a Chinese chest to come with smaller compartments to place tiny objects. In order to protect valuables, many chests contained a fake bottom, and for space efficiency, many could also be stacked. Some chests were decorated minimally to show off the wood grain of the object, while others were adorned with narratives or symbols.


Quick Facts

  • Traditionally, when a Chinese woman married, the bride’s parents would provide a dowry. This dowry would include new clothes presented in a wooden Chinese chest
  • Chinese chests in the Ming Dynasty were mostly made in the south from camphor trees, which naturally repel insects like moths
  • Before sea trade, Chinese people used camphor chests as a place to keep blankets, clothes, or linens, as well as food and papers they wanted stowed away

Recommended Items at Auction

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Important Chinese PUN HING HONG Carved Chest
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Important Chinese PUN HING HONG Carved Chest
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$856 Bids
CHINESE POLYCHROME PAINTED TRUNK ON STAND
Nov 03, 10:00 AM EDT
CHINESE POLYCHROME PAINTED TRUNK ON STAND
by Potomack Company
Est: $80- $120
$401 Bid
19TH C. CHINESE CAMPHORWOOD BRASS BOUND MULE CHEST
Nov 13, 11:00 AM EST
19TH C. CHINESE CAMPHORWOOD BRASS BOUND MULE CHEST
by Thomaston Place Auction Galleries
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
A Chinese gilt bronze and red lacquer Daoist figure of an Immortal
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese gilt bronze and red lacquer Daoist figure of an Immortal
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £700- £900
£7000 Bids
A Chinese bronze lacquered and gilt figure of a seated bearded Official
Nov 10, 10:30 AM GMT
A Chinese bronze lacquered and gilt figure of a seated bearded Official
by Dreweatts 1759 Fine Sales
Est: £800- £1,200
£8000 Bids
Pair of Chinese Carved Chests
Oct 29, 9:30 AM EDT
Pair of Chinese Carved Chests
by Merrill's Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
Chinoiserie lacquered wood chest
Nov 17, 3:00 PM UYT
Chinoiserie lacquered wood chest
by Zorrilla Subastas
Est: $1,200- $1,500
$8000 Bids
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PAINTED CHINESE BRASS BOUND TRUNK
Nov 03, 10:00 AM GMT
PAINTED CHINESE BRASS BOUND TRUNK
by Sheppards
Est: €300- €500
€1800 Bids
A Chinese Caved Camphor Wood Chest
Nov 15, 11:00 AM AEDT
A Chinese Caved Camphor Wood Chest
by Theodore Bruce
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD400 Bids
CHINE VERS 1900
Nov 03, 2:30 PM CET
CHINE VERS 1900
by Accademia Fine Art
Est: €10- €30
€100 Bids
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CHINESE HARDWOOD AND MOTHER O'PEARL INLAID TRUNK
Nov 03, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE HARDWOOD AND MOTHER O'PEARL INLAID TRUNK
by Sheppards
Est: €400- €600
€2400 Bids
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CHINESE METAL BOUND HARDWOOD VANITY CHEST
Nov 03, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE METAL BOUND HARDWOOD VANITY CHEST
by Sheppards
Est: €150- €250
€900 Bids
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CHINESE ELMWOOD CHEST
Nov 03, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE ELMWOOD CHEST
by Sheppards
Est: €300- €500
€1800 Bids
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A 'LOTUS' STORAGE CHEST AND STAND Tibet, 18th/19th century (2)
Nov 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A 'LOTUS' STORAGE CHEST AND STAND Tibet, 18th/19th century (2)
by Bonhams
Est: £1,500- £2,000
£1,5000 Bids
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CHINESE CARVED CAMPHORWOOD CHEST 20th Century Height 14". Width 26". Depth 16.75".
Nov 04, 9:30 AM EDT
CHINESE CARVED CAMPHORWOOD CHEST 20th Century Height 14". Width 26". Depth 16.75".
by Eldred's
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
A CHINESE HARDWOOD 'EIGHT IMMORTALS' CHEST.
Nov 19, 9:00 AM GMT
A CHINESE HARDWOOD 'EIGHT IMMORTALS' CHEST.
by Chiswick Auctions
Est: £400- £600
£4000 Bids
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CHINESE METAL BOUND HARDWOOD VANITY CHEST
Nov 03, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE METAL BOUND HARDWOOD VANITY CHEST
by Sheppards
Est: €150- €250
€900 Bids
CHINESE LACQUER CHEST, 18TH CENTURY
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
CHINESE LACQUER CHEST, 18TH CENTURY
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$6000 Bids
Chinese Lacquer Chest
Nov 11, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese Lacquer Chest
by Showplace
Est: $100- $200
$250 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Chests


Sheppards

Sheppards

Leski Auctions Pty Ltd

Leski Auctions Pty Ltd

Eldred's

Eldred's