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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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Antique Chinese Carved Camphor Wood Trunk / Chest
Mar 02, 10:00 AM MST
Antique Chinese Carved Camphor Wood Trunk / Chest
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$607 Bids
Chinese timber lift top chest on stand (61 x 78 x 51cm)
Feb 29, 10:00 AM AEDT
Chinese timber lift top chest on stand (61 x 78 x 51cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD120- AUD160
AUD203 Bids
Chinese Lacquered Wood Chest
Feb 29, 12:00 PM EST
Chinese Lacquered Wood Chest
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $100- $1,000
$501 Bid
Chinese heavily carved camphor chest (60 x 104 x 52cm)
Feb 29, 10:00 AM AEDT
Chinese heavily carved camphor chest (60 x 104 x 52cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD70- AUD90
AUD101 Bid
Große chinesische Transporttruhe der Qing-Zeit, China 19. Jh.
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
Große chinesische Transporttruhe der Qing-Zeit, China 19. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €150- €250
€500 Bids
A Chinese ebonised chest
Mar 08, 10:00 AM GMT
A Chinese ebonised chest
by Martel Maides
Est: £80- £120
£700 Bids
QING DYNASTY A PAIR OF RED SANDALWOOD INLAID CHESTS WITH SMALL TOPS
Mar 23, 3:00 PM PDT
QING DYNASTY A PAIR OF RED SANDALWOOD INLAID CHESTS WITH SMALL TOPS
by Mega International Auction
Est: $7,000- $8,000
$6,0000 Bids
Mingqi-Truhe aus Sancai-Keramik, Ming-Zeit, China 14./16. Jh.
Mar 09, 10:00 AM CET
Mingqi-Truhe aus Sancai-Keramik, Ming-Zeit, China 14./16. Jh.
by K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg
Est: €150- €200
€500 Bids
PAIR CHINESE GREEN LACQUERED BEDSIDE CHESTS
Mar 06, 10:00 AM GMT
PAIR CHINESE GREEN LACQUERED BEDSIDE CHESTS
by Sheppards
Est: €250- €350
€1500 Bids
A pair of 20th century Chinese black lacquered and gilded wooden chests on stands
Mar 08, 10:00 AM GMT
A pair of 20th century Chinese black lacquered and gilded wooden chests on stands
by Martel Maides
Est: £100- £150
£800 Bids
Chinese lacquered leather trunk on stand
Mar 08, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese lacquered leather trunk on stand
by Millea Bros Ltd
Est: $70- $100
$300 Bids
Chinese Export Lidded Storage Trunk or Chest
Mar 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Chinese Export Lidded Storage Trunk or Chest
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $50- $1,000
$100 Bids
Ming Dynasty Sancai Glazed Chest (Votive Offering)
Mar 01, 8:00 AM MST
Ming Dynasty Sancai Glazed Chest (Votive Offering)
by Artemis Gallery
Est: $900- $1,200
$4500 Bids
MING STYLE NATURAL WOOD CHEST ON CHEST
Mar 12, 11:15 AM EDT
MING STYLE NATURAL WOOD CHEST ON CHEST
by Ashcroft and Moore
Est: $1,000- $10,000
$1000 Bids
CHINA - WOODEN CHEST DECORATED WITH A TAPESTRY, 19TH CENTURY.
Mar 02, 11:00 AM CET
CHINA - WOODEN CHEST DECORATED WITH A TAPESTRY, 19TH CENTURY.
by Goldfield Auction
Est: €400- €800
€4000 Bids
A Chinese carved wood Coffer decorated with Dragons and Bats 47 x 100.5 x 67 cm
Mar 01, 10:00 AM GMT
A Chinese carved wood Coffer decorated with Dragons and Bats 47 x 100.5 x 67 cm
by Hannam's Auctioneers
Est: £80- £120
£750 Bids
GEORGE ZEE & CO CARVED CHINESE CHEST
Mar 13, 3:00 PM EDT
GEORGE ZEE & CO CARVED CHINESE CHEST
by Austin York LLC
Est: $200- $300
$500 Bids
PAINTED RED LEATHER CHINESE EXPORT CAMPHOR WOOD TRUNK
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
PAINTED RED LEATHER CHINESE EXPORT CAMPHOR WOOD TRUNK
by Casco Bay Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Chinese Aromatic Wood Dragon Chest, 20th C.
Mar 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Aromatic Wood Dragon Chest, 20th C.
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
Antique Chinese Carved Wood And White Jade Jewelry Chest
Mar 12, 12:00 PM EDT
Antique Chinese Carved Wood And White Jade Jewelry Chest
by Akiba Galleries
Est: $50- $500
$250 Bids
Chinese Brass-Mounted Ebonized Traveling Trunk
Mar 06, 10:00 AM EST
Chinese Brass-Mounted Ebonized Traveling Trunk
by STAIR
Est: $600- $800
$3000 Bids
EARLY 19TH CENTURY CHINA TRADE BRASS AND LEATHER CAMPHOR WOOD CHEST
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
EARLY 19TH CENTURY CHINA TRADE BRASS AND LEATHER CAMPHOR WOOD CHEST
by Casco Bay Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Chests


Lawsons

Lawsons

Martel Maides

Martel Maides

K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg

K&K – Auktionen in Heidelberg

Akiba Galleries

Akiba Galleries