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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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Pair of ebonised Chinese yoke back scholar's armchairs with caned seats (104 x 64 x 61cm)
Jun 27, 10:00 AM AEST
Pair of ebonised Chinese yoke back scholar's armchairs with caned seats (104 x 64 x 61cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD180- AUD240
AUD1307 Bids
Pair of Antique Chinese Porcelain Garden Stools
Jun 29, 11:00 AM EDT
Pair of Antique Chinese Porcelain Garden Stools
by Kavanagh Auctions
Est: $50- $15,000
$1204 Bids
A Set of Chinese Ceramic Garden Seats
Jun 27, 9:00 AM PDT
A Set of Chinese Ceramic Garden Seats
by Abell Auction
Est: $150- $300
$1002 Bids
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Pair Chinese Wood Chairs
Jun 28, 11:00 AM PDT
Pair Chinese Wood Chairs
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $100- $150
$301 Bid
Pair of Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain "Tobacco Leaf" Pattern Garden Seats 20th century
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair of Chinese Famille Rose Porcelain "Tobacco Leaf" Pattern Garden Seats 20th century
by DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
Pair of Chinese Garden Seats
Jun 29, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair of Chinese Garden Seats
by Roland Auctions NY
Est: $100- $200
$201 Bid
19th century Chinese hardwood side chair. Square moonstone inlaid back.
Jun 30, 10:00 AM EDT
19th century Chinese hardwood side chair. Square moonstone inlaid back.
by Tremont Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
Pair of Chinese Hardwood Armchairs
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair of Chinese Hardwood Armchairs
by Everard Auctions and Appraisals
Est: $300- $500
$1750 Bids
Chinese Carved Wood Arm Chair
Jun 26, 5:00 PM EDT
Chinese Carved Wood Arm Chair
by Abington Auction Gallery
Est: $300- $400
$1500 Bids
Pair of Antique Chinese Red Lacquered Elmwood Armchairs
Jul 06, 9:30 AM EDT
Pair of Antique Chinese Red Lacquered Elmwood Armchairs
by Rafael Osona Auctions
Est: $500- $700
$2000 Bids
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Pair Chinese Hard Wood Chairs
Jun 29, 11:00 AM PDT
Pair Chinese Hard Wood Chairs
by Wealthier Art & Auction
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Chinese footstool Ø 30 cm.
Jul 05, 10:00 AM CEST
Chinese footstool Ø 30 cm.
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €80- €240
€800 Bids
Set of Chinese footstools, H 93 cm.
Jul 05, 10:00 AM CEST
Set of Chinese footstools, H 93 cm.
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €160- €480
€1600 Bids
Chinese Lacquered Wood Stool
Jul 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Chinese Lacquered Wood Stool
by Auctions at Showplace
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Chinese ottoman
Jul 05, 10:00 AM CEST
Chinese ottoman
by Twents Veilinghuis
Est: €120- €360
€1200 Bids
Paar chinesische Palastsessel
Jun 29, 11:00 AM CEST
Paar chinesische Palastsessel
by Kunst-und Auktionshaus Schloss Hagenburg
Est: €0- €0
€5000 Bids
CHINESE HARDWOOD AND BAMBOO COUCH
Jun 29, 3:00 PM PDT
CHINESE HARDWOOD AND BAMBOO COUCH
by Mega International Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$6000 Bids
PAIR CHINESE CERAMIC BLUE & WHITE GARDEN SEATS
Jun 26, 10:00 AM IST
PAIR CHINESE CERAMIC BLUE & WHITE GARDEN SEATS
by Sheppards
Est: €100- €150
€600 Bids
Large Chinese Elephant Garden Seat
Jun 28, 6:00 PM EDT
Large Chinese Elephant Garden Seat
by Orion Antiques
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Chinese Red Lacquer Wedding Chair
Jul 03, 12:00 PM EDT
Chinese Red Lacquer Wedding Chair
by Old Kinderhook Auction Company
Est: $50- $100
$300 Bids
Pair Chinese Black Lacquer Coromandel Stools Together with a Chinese Black Lacquer Coromandel Table
Jun 26, 10:00 AM EDT
Pair Chinese Black Lacquer Coromandel Stools Together with a Chinese Black Lacquer Coromandel Table
by DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Chinese Chairs


Greenwich Auction

Greenwich Auction

Twents Veilinghuis

Twents Veilinghuis

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers

DOYLE Auctioneers & Appraisers

RB Fine Arts

RB Fine Arts