Bonhams : A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing

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Lot 292
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo
Qianlong/Jiaqing

Sold for £ 120,000 (US$ 150,451) inc. premium
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo
Qianlong/Jiaqing
Of elegant, classic form, the two-panelled top set within a wide frame, separated by a narrow waist from the shaped apron finely carved in relief with a pair of confronted five-clawed dragons pursuing the flaming pearl amidst cloud scrolls also repeated on the waist, each of the side aprons carved in relief with a five-clawed full-faced dragon, its arms stretched across the sides amidst cloud scrolls, raised on four cabriole legs with cloud scrolls terminating in ruyi-head scrolls.
128cm long x 50.5cm wide x 32.3cm high (50⅜in long x 19⅞in wide x 12¾in high).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: a Scottish family collection.

    Zitan, known as the most noble and precious Chinese hardwood, became a very expensive commodity by the early Qing period given the slow growing and dwindling resources of trees due to excessive logging throughout the Ming Dynasty. The shortage of supply of the luxurious timber required import from Southeast Asia and was therefore carefully monitored at the Imperial workshops.

    The Qing Imperial Court sourced furniture from the Palace Workshops, commissioned pieces from workshops outside the Forbidden City and the Yuanming yuan, and also acquired it through tribute. Often the highest level of craftsmen originated in Guangzho and Jiangsu, renowned for their superior craftsmanship.

    The present lot, made of the precious zitan timber, is carved with six five-clawed dragons, including two pairs of confronted dragons pursuing the flaming pearl, and two full-faced dragons, all amidst cloud scrolls. Facing dragons symbolise Happiness at Reunion, xi xiangfeng.

    For a similar carved design of confronted dragons pursuing the flaming pearl, see the apron of a zitan canopy bed from the Palace Museum, dated to the 18th century, illustrated in Splendor of Style: Classical Furniture from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, National Museum of History, Beijing, 1999, p.113. For another example dated to the Qianlong period, from the Qing Court Collection, illustrating carved confronted and full-faced dragons amidst cloud scrolls as well as related cabriole legs with ruyi-head terminals, see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum: Furniture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (II), Hong Kong, 2002, Catalogue no.26. Compare also a pair of kang tables in the Forbidden City, illustrated by Y.Wan, S.Wang and Y.Lu, eds., Life in the Forbidden City of Qing Dynasty, p.173.
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing
A rare zitan 'dragon' rectangular kang table, kangzhuo Qianlong/Jiaqing
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