#7474 Rare 17-18th Century Square Table with Early Motifs and Design

(早清南榆帶金絲楠木面圓包圓四方桌)This is an interesting 17-18th century square table, possibly used as an altar table. The workmanship and the style are from the north, but the darker wood frame on the table top appears to be either older Ju wood that tends to have part of the wood looking denser with tighter locally curled grain which the northern woodworker or tradesman calls it Nan-Yu (南榆, Southern Elm) which is Ju wood (櫸木), or it could be wood from the center part of a very old Chinese walnut tree(核桃樹)which tends to be darker with more dramatic grain. Sometimes it is hard to tell exactly what type of wood it is on an older furniture piece, not only because some parts of the different woods can look very similar, but also, after the furniture having been refinished, stripped, or weathered in whatever condition, can all make it difficult to identify the real wood type. This is possible that why Mr. Wang-Shi-Xiang (王世襄先生), the world renown author, researcher, and collector of the Ming and Ming style hardwood Chinese furniture, recommended that the identification of a furniture piece for its age be best examined from the carving on the furniture piece. The combined use of Nan-Yu and Jin-Si-Nan-Mu wood for a piece of furniture, though not common, still make sense.

This early table is constructed with a very thick and much wider “Floating-Panel” style frame for the top which is inserted with three pieces of Golden-Thread-Nan-Mu (金絲楠木). The thick frame is hand-carved into a three-banded “melon” (瓜羐)design on the edge that looks as if three pieces of thin boards were stacked on top of each other from the outside. The long and wide spandrels that “wrap” around the four sides of the table were actually “locked” into the legs by cutting into the legs to join the legs, creating an illusion of a large round hole at the four corners where the rounded legs actually go through these holes and being “locked” in the space. Underneath the four-sided spandrel, a variation of the Ba-Wang-Chen style joinery was further attached in the similar construction that allows the legs to again go through the created round holes and being double-locked in the space. Naturally, one can see how strongly this table is built to prevent the legs from falling out, getting loose or warped. Earlier furniture pieces often have great design and joinery to make sure every part stays intact at its place for a long time. The four short posts carved in a “double” design with an arrow shaped “pointed” joinery that joins the table top and the horizontal spandrel on each side of the table further prevent the table top and the spandrels from being warped through time.

The carved Yin-Yang (陰陽)design in a circle with Ling-Zhi medicinal mushroom (靈芝)and leaf motif, and peach (桃)motif on some sides, works to break all the straight lines of the table and is the focus of the table along with its very wide table top frame made of special different color of wood. It is possible that this older table might have been used as an altar table for a Daoist's residence or building. The carved Yin-Yang design in a medallion shape has also appeared in some early Chinese latticework.

Dimensions: 36 3/4”x 36 7/8” x 32 1/4” H
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