Loading Spinner

Chinese Shelves & Bookcases

Traditional Chinese homes were not built with closet space, yet the Chinese people historically have always made it a practice to put away dishes, cloths, and clothing that were not for immediate use. This tendency led to a high and constant demand for cabinets, shelves, and bookcases to be used for storage. Shelving units were made of lacquered wood, and often featured intricate geometric patterns or decorative inlays to embellish the surface.

Bookcases were especially necessary due to the importance of writing, documenting, and painting on paper handscrolls. When these scrolls were not being used, they were rolled and put away into a bookshelf. Many different varieties of bookshelves were developed in order to keep all the scrolls accessible to scholars.


Quick Facts

  • During the Song Dynasty, the emperor commissioned the mass printing of Buddhist scriptures, which led to the invention of the revolving bookcase
  • Chinese bookcases originated as cabinets, but when the doors were discarded for ease of access, they became the open shelf bookcases we know today
  • Sometimes, Chinese bookcases or cabinets have a false back or door that might have lead to an escape route or a secret security room within a home

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

Chinese Rosewood Etagere
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
Chinese Rosewood Etagere
by Regency Auction House
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
PAIR OF CHINESE CARVED HARDWOOD SHELVES
Oct 31, 8:00 PM EDT
PAIR OF CHINESE CARVED HARDWOOD SHELVES
by NC Auctioneer Inc.
Est: $400- $600
$1000 Bids
Collector's display case, Chin
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CET
Collector's display case, Chin
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€1000 Bids
bp parity badge
Tablette rectangulaire quadripode à pied galbés et bandeau polylobées
Oct 28, 2:30 PM CEST
Tablette rectangulaire quadripode à pied galbés et bandeau polylobées
by Exper Antic
Est: €1,200- €1,500
€1,2000 Bids
bp parity badge
CHINESE HARDWOOD DWARF BOOKCASE
Nov 02, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE HARDWOOD DWARF BOOKCASE
by Sheppards
Est: €400- €600
€2400 Bids
bp parity badge
CHINESE HARDWOOD BREAKFRONT LOW BOOKCASE
Nov 02, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE HARDWOOD BREAKFRONT LOW BOOKCASE
by Sheppards
Est: €300- €500
€1800 Bids
bp parity badge
CHINESE HARDWOOD DWARF BOOKCASE
Nov 02, 10:00 AM GMT
CHINESE HARDWOOD DWARF BOOKCASE
by Sheppards
Est: €400- €600
€2400 Bids
PAIR OF CHINESE LACQUERED WALL SHELVES
Nov 02, 10:00 AM PDT
PAIR OF CHINESE LACQUERED WALL SHELVES
by I.M. Chait Gallery
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
PAIR OF CHINESE PORCELAIN WALL SHELVES
Nov 02, 10:00 AM PDT
PAIR OF CHINESE PORCELAIN WALL SHELVES
by I.M. Chait Gallery
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Rosewood Carved Diminutive Etagere
Nov 06, 10:00 AM EDT
Rosewood Carved Diminutive Etagere
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $150- $250
$750 Bids
CHINE - Début XXe siècle
Nov 07, 1:00 PM CET
CHINE - Début XXe siècle
by OXIO
Est: €200- €300
€2000 Bids
CHINE - Vers 1900
Nov 07, 1:00 PM CET
CHINE - Vers 1900
by OXIO
Est: €200- €300
€2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Shelves & Bookcases


Sheppards

Sheppards

I.M. Chait Gallery

I.M. Chait Gallery

OXIO

OXIO

Historia Auktionshaus

Historia Auktionshaus