History of Chinese classical furniture

China is one of the oldest and most culturally enduring countries in the world. In its long history, it has created a splendid national culture. Among them, furniture culture, as an important part of this art treasure house, has gradually formed a unique form with various styles and features through the labor creation of ancestors for thousands of years. The study of furniture in the past generations will enable us to understand the development of production, customs, thoughts, feelings and aesthetic tastes from one aspect. The artistic achievements of Chinese furniture have had different degrees of influence on the East and West. In the world furniture system, it occupies an important position. The term furniture, their meanings are very broad, but usually refer to the "tables and benches" made by carpenters. The ancients sat on the ground, the bed was mainly in the room, and the floor was laid; later, there were screens, several cases, cases and other furniture. The bed was both a bedding and a seat, and on this basis, the bed was extended. There were not many changes in the periods of Shang, Zhou, Qin, Han and Wei. There were stools and tables, but not the mainstream. Until the Han Dynasty, the Hu bed entered the Central Plains. During the Northern and Southern Dynasties, high-profile seats appeared one after another. Sitting and getting popular. The form of residence in the Tang Dynasty is still two forms of parallel. High tables, chairs, stools, etc. have been used by many people, but sitting on the ground is still the daily habit of many people.

Really began to sit high and sit from the Song Dynasty, all kinds of furniture with high sitting also came into being. The Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties have been demanding excellence in the production and design of furniture, especially in the Ming and Qing dynasties, which became the heyday of traditional furniture.

The trait of Chinese furniture in the past is that it not only improves the value of its service to human beings through the evolution of various historical periods, but also condenses the different artistic styles formed in its specific environment. Among the existing Ming and Qing furniture with a large number of digits, it is concentrated in the exquisite craft value, the high artistic appreciation value and the heavy historical and cultural value. This makes furniture one of the cultural heritages that the Chinese nation deserves to be proud of and cherish. The lifestyle habits of the Song Dynasty before and after the Song Dynasty were very different from the later ones, so we can hardly see the furniture before Song Dynasty. In the millennium after the Song Dynasty, people used to sit high and have a large number of beautiful and practical furniture. Ming and Qing furniture is the golden age of furniture. It can be said that it has reached the peak of its peak. The unprecedented prosperity of the furniture manufacturing industry in the early Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty can be attributed to two reasons. First, the commodity economy of urban towns and towns is generally developed, and the pursuit of social fashion has stimulated the supply and demand of furniture from another aspect; another reason may be In connection with the opening of the sea, there is a large influx of hard wood, which allows the craftsmen to have room to play, and actually produces furniture that surpasses the previous generation in terms of firmness, beauty and practicality. After human beings left the cave life, they experienced a long period of tribal disputes and city-state scuffles. During the Shang Dynasty's entry into the Bronze Civilization, China can see the superb casting techniques and extraordinary aesthetic tastes from the existing unearthed relics. In the daily life of the ancestors, the ritual activities occupy the supreme position, pinning the weather and the harvest of the grain on the protection of heaven. The ritual instrument became the most important artifact of this period, and some of it was regarded as the early furniture, which played the role of storage and storage. For example, "ä¿Ž" is a case specially used to slaughter livestock, and put the slaughtered sacrifices on it; like "forbidden", it is the platform of the wine-discharging device in the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. The shape is thick and the decoration is mostly horrible. The crepe. In addition, the commercial dynasty technology has emerged in the Shang Dynasty and has been applied to the decoration of bed and case furniture. From the lacquer fragments left unearthed, you can see the rich ornamentation. In addition to the black flowers and black flowers, it is also inlaid with ivory and turquoise. Its technology has reached a very high level in the Spring and Autumn Period, the slave society has collapsed, and the whole society has turned to the feudal society. During the transition period, the level of productivity during the Warring States period was greatly improved, and people's living environment was improved accordingly. Compared with the previous generation, the manufacturing level of furniture has been greatly improved. Especially in the field of wood processing, there are skilled craftsmen like Luban, which not only promote the development of furniture, but also play their talents in wood construction. Due to advances in metallurgical technology, improvements in ironmaking technology have brought about rapid changes in wood processing, and there have been a wealth of processing equipment and tools, such as iron saws, axes, drills, chisels, shovel, planing, etc. The manufacture brings convenience. According to legend, Luban was invented by Luban, and the improvement of the craft also promoted the improvement of furniture.

At that time, the main types of furniture were several cases and cases. Most of the wood products are decorated with lacquer, one for the sake of beauty, showing the identity and status of the owner of the furniture, and the other for protecting the wood. At that time, people's living habits were sitting and squatting on the ground, so the case and the case were relatively low. The emergence of the bed has made the human life level a big step forward. The wood is buried in the ground, and it is easily damaged by moisture and pressure. It is also vulnerable to water and fire during use, so it is difficult for us to see the real thing at that time. The painted bed unearthed in Xinyang, Henan Province is an extremely rare material evidence. It can be seen that the furniture manufacturing situation in Chu State can also infer its predecessor. As early as the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, there was a record of using screens. It played a role in dividing the space and beautifying the environment. During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, its production and decoration were quite beautiful. Qin Shihuang unified the world and established a centralized feudal state. A series of reform measures have brought politics, economy and culture to a new height. The large-scale Afang Palace is a landmark building of the Emperor Qin Shihuang's great construction. The glory of the time was accompanied by war and natural disasters. The luxurious furnishings and grand palaces were nowhere to be found. We can only imagine by means of historical records and literary works. The situation at the time. The Han Dynasty is still sitting on the ground. The indoor life is centered on the bed and the couch. The function of the bed is not only for sleep, but also activities such as dining and talking are carried out on the bed. A large number of Han Dynasty portrait bricks and portrait stones reflect such a scene. The bed is slightly different from the couch, the bed is higher than the couch and is wider than the couch. The accounts placed on the bed also play an important role. In summer, mosquitoes and winters are cold, and at the same time they play a role in beautification, and they are also signs of identity and wealth. In the Han Dynasty, it was a symbol of the hierarchy. The emperor used the jade, the princes used wooden or bamboo, and placed them in front of the bed, playing an important role in life and daily life. The role of the case is quite large. From the time to the emperor, down to the people, the case is used as a table for eating and drinking, and it is also used to place bamboo slips and desk writing. With frequent exchanges with countries in the Western Regions, the state of relative isolation between countries has been broken. The bed was introduced to China at this time. This is a seat shaped like Mazar. Later it was developed into a collapsible Mazar, a chair, etc. More importantly, it laid the foundation for people to sit down. From the Wei and Jin Dynasties to the Song and Yuan Dynasties, there were more than a thousand years before and after. The Chinese society has undergone drastic changes during this period. The Wei, Jin, Southern and Northern Dynasties have been in chaos for years. The Li Tang dynasty was a great event. The life of the Song Dynasty was increasingly prosperous. The Yuan Empire was vast and unprecedented. These drastic changes have brought tremendous changes to the society. During the Yuan Dynasty, the Italian traveler Mark Polo praised the majestic and magnificent Eastern Empire. The light of the Eastern civilization contrasted with the darkness of the European Middle Ages. During this period, the lives of Chinese people and the furniture used by Chinese people in their lives have undergone fundamental changes. "Sitting on the ground" is an intrinsic habit of the Chinese before the Wei and Jin Dynasties. From the Eastern Han Dynasty, with the exchanges between the East and the West, new lifestyles were introduced into China, and the form of "sit down and sit" was more convenient and comfortable. It is accepted by people that this introduction of sitting posture is directly related to the introduction of Buddhism. Especially after the Wei, Jin and Southern and Northern Dynasties, a more colorful and secular life form began. Despite the political chaos and frequent wars during the period from the end of the Han Dynasty to the Six Dynasties, the spiritual life in the period was very free and open, and the artistic creation was full of enthusiasm. The people who are struggling in the war are full of illusions about the afterlife depicted by Buddhism, and the detached genius of the nobles, who live in the mountains, and Tao Yuanming and the seven sages of the bamboo forest, appear in such a social background. The growing prosperity of Buddhism has promoted the construction of temples and grottoes on a large scale. The furnishings and utensils have also been influenced by foreign influences, and high-rise furniture such as piers, chairs and stools have appeared. Unfortunately, we can't see the real things of the furniture at that time. The reference materials can only rely on the murals, stone carvings, written records or other imitations of other crafts. From the paintings of the Tang Dynasty, chairs, stools, double beds, piers and other furniture can be seen, but these furniture are limited to the upper classes or monks. This is related to the habit of sitting on the ground of the previous generation. Perhaps people at that time understood the bed and the couch as high ground. In terms of decoration, embossed accessories or painting patterns have a lot to do with Buddhism. The Sui Dynasty only lasted for 37 years. There was nothing special about furniture and no change. The real period of prosperity was in the Tang Dynasty. In the early Tang Dynasty, there was a vigorous and enterprising spirit. After a long period of war and displacement, the enthusiasm of people's lives broke out. The "rule of Zhenguan" brought social stability and unprecedented cultural prosperity. Under such a social background, the furniture of the Tang Dynasty showed its characteristics of being honest, full, generous and stable. Its weight and momentum were relatively large, but there was no change in technology and variety. The furniture used by the aristocrats is richer, especially in the decoration, and there are many writings in the Tang paintings. The furniture of this period was intricately carved and painted with large lacquer and painted with floral patterns. From the Dunhuang murals in the Tang Dynasty, in addition to the drums, lotus seats, rattan piers, etc., you can also see the simple shape of the plate, the case of the foot, the cockerel case. The literati doctors are pursuing a more refined and clean style, so the erected screens and screens of this period are not decorated. There is no change in the bed type. Due to the previous generation, the box bed, screen bed, platform bed and independent bed are the main ones. From the late Tang Dynasty to the Five Dynasties, the scholar-officials and the famous family were eager to pursue luxury and luxury life. Many major banquets and social activities were recorded by masters of painting, which provided us with extremely reliable image information for studying and examining the living environment of people at that time. The five-generation painter Gu Yuzhong’s "Han Xi Zai Night Banquet" is a good example. The picture shows us clearly the use of furniture during the Five Dynasties, including straight back chairs, strips, screens, beds, couches, piers, etc. . The complete and concise form also indicates to us the pre-form of Ming-style furniture, which laid the foundation for the most perfect stage of Chinese historical furniture.

Beginning in the middle and late 10th century, the Song Dynasty began its picture of economic development and urban prosperity. In the Song Dynasty, the high-seat furniture was quite common. The high case, the high table, and the high number also appeared accordingly. Sitting down and sitting has become a fixed posture. The life and life changes in Chinese history are determined by sitting posture. The prosperity of the secular life of the town has led to the construction of high-end houses and gardens. It is inevitable to create furniture to arrange rooms, which provides a good social environment for the flourishing development of the furniture industry. In the Song Dynasty and later in the Liao and Jin dynasties, more than 300 years, furniture development experienced a climax period, high-end furniture system has been established and improved, the variety of furniture is more abundant, the style is more beautiful. For example, the table can be divided into square tables, bar tables, piano tables, dining tables, wine tables and folding tables, which are more and more fine according to the purpose. The chairs of the Song Dynasty have been quite perfect, the hind legs are directly raised, and the brains are gathered together, and the whole backboard supports the strength of the human body. The circle chair is perfect in shape and has a round backrest to suit the human body curve. The bed was improved to form a chair. Several types have developed various forms such as high, short, fixed, straight legs, and curly legs. The furniture of the Song Dynasty showed the characteristics of tall and beautiful in the overall style. The decoration inherits the style of the five generations, tends to be simple and elegant, does not make a large area of ​​carving decoration, only takes a partial embellishment to achieve the effect of finishing the finishing touch. Relatively speaking, the time of the founding of the Yuan Dynasty was relatively short. The policy adopted by the rulers was Han system. Therefore, not only in the political and economic systems, but also in the Song, Liao and Jin generations, the furniture also embraced the Song system, craftsmanship and modeling. There have been no major changes in design. However, it is worth mentioning that the drawer table appeared in this period. The drawer is convenient to open as a storage. It is a great invention, which greatly enhances the use of furniture. The emergence of this new thing may be attributed more to ethnic exchanges and cultural integration. During the thousands of years from the Wei and Jin Dynasties to the Song, Liao and Jin Dynasties, the Chinese Kings continued to change. There have been two large-scale national integrations, and the social orientation has been running along the feudal Confucian rule. When the West was struggling in the darkness of the Middle Ages and trying to move toward a new enlightenment, China’s feudal dynasty was constantly changing, and the Yuan Dynasty was about to become a success. It will be a more secular and more diverse. New Era. From the end of the 16th century to the 17th century, the Baroque art of the Western world dominated. China in the East is experiencing a period of cultural prosperity in the Ming Dynasty. The society is very unstable, political corruption, and peasant uprisings. In the southern part of the war, there was a peak period of the art of Su Zuo furniture and Guang Zuo furniture. It was not until the demise of the Ming Dynasty that this peak continued. Until the Yongzheng and Qianlong dynasties of the Qing Dynasty, the characteristics of typical Qing style furniture began to appear.

The so-called Ming style furniture generally refers to the daily living room furniture which is gradually developed on the basis of inheriting the traditional style of Song Yuan furniture, from Ming Qing, with high quality hardwood as the main material. According to the relevant textual materials, it was originally called “fine wood furniture” or “small wood guy”. At first, this kind of "fine wood furniture" mainly used the locally produced eucalyptus in the Jiangnan area. After the middle and late Ming Dynasty, more varieties of wood such as rosewood, red sandalwood and the like were used. At that time, the beautiful woods of these patterns were collectively referred to as "Wenmu." Especially after the direct participation and active advocacy of the literati in the late Ming Dynasty, such fashionable furniture immediately became popular and quickly spread in a distinctive style. The fine wood furniture has long-lasting practicality and long-lasting aesthetic taste. It has become an artistic pearl in the history of Chinese national civilization with an outstanding artistic style. This kind of furniture was born in the Ming Dynasty, and the characteristics of the times are distinct, so it is called "Ming Style". The origin and development of Ming-style furniture, the main geographical area is in the Jiangnan area centered on Suzhou. This can be seen from the hand-made furniture and documentary records. The Ming-style furniture in this area continues to have a distinct and unique style. In the early Qing Dynasty, Ming-style hardwood furniture was produced in many places in the country, but it is not difficult to see that only the style and technology of Suzhou area are the most comprehensive. This style of Jiangnan furniture is widely loved. People regard Su-style furniture as the authenticity of Ming-style furniture, also known as "Su-style furniture" or "Su-made". In the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, social unrest was unrest, and the development of furniture was not stagnant due to war. There is no innovation in the furniture of Chongzhen years, but it is becoming more and more mature in terms of shape, crafts, decoration and materials. A large number of imported hardwood woods such as red sandalwood, rosewood and mahogany are loved by the upper society and the literati. Among them, the bright and beautiful rosewood has become the material of choice for the production of high-end furniture. Domestically produced wood such as southern iron and huanghuali close to iron wood, eucalyptus, northern Korean rosewood, walnut wood and other large quantities of firewood are also widely used, in addition, as well as decorative boxwood and eucalyptus and special cabinets Elm and other are widely used. There are embossed enamel carvings and various curved lines on the decoration, which are rich and restrained, which makes the furniture of this period soft and soft, and exquisite in the scouring; white copper hinges, handles and fasteners Or other accessories just add an effective decorative effect to the furniture, and complement each other in color. In the type of furniture, it is more abundant than ever before, and the furniture is subdivided according to the needs of users in different occasions. There are not only tables, cabinets, boxes, but also beds, chairs and stools. Classes, screens, etc., the most concentrated of which appeared in the early Qing Dynasty. The boutique is a number of red sandalwood, but also a small amount of rosewood and mahogany. According to different process characteristics, the practice is obviously different, and can be divided into red sandalwood, rosewood, mahogany and firewood, etc., which are different from each other. The firewood furniture in the early Qing Dynasty was a fine product in the furniture of the Ming Dynasty. Many of the wood furniture were rich in style and style, reflecting the aesthetic taste from the folk. Among the wood furniture, Jin is the best, and Hebei and Shandong are not lacking in good works. At the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, although there was not much innovation in furniture, at the beginning of the founding of the country, the ruler faced everything in an open and conservative manner. In the furniture, there was a feature of expanding the size and keeping the form old; With the stability of politics and the prosperity of society, the rulers have embodied the pursuit of furniture. One is the increase in volume, and the other is that the decoration is becoming more and more delicate. Throughout the history of furniture, from the end of the Ming Dynasty to the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, the Soviet-style furniture reached its peak, and many of the Ming-style furniture that has been handed down to the present are mostly produced in the early Qing Dynasty. With the evolution of society, many new varieties have emerged. They are all variants based on “Ming-style” furniture. The overall style is still “elegant” and “elegant”. After the middle of the Qing Dynasty, the style of Qing style furniture gradually became clear, and the Soviet-style furniture also showed new features. It interacted with the Beijing-style furniture that was popular throughout the country, and each retained its own characteristics and historical status. Different styles of furniture are unique. At this time, the western world has already entered capitalism, and political revolutions, industrial revolutions, and scientific revolutions have frequently occurred. China is still immersed in a self-sufficient agricultural society, retreating itself and satisfying itself. The Opium War from 1840 to 1842, the Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860, and the Sino-Japanese War of 1894 to 1895 caused China to become a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country and was forced to open its doors. Successive disasters have forced people to re-examine traditional values.

From the craftsmanship and plastic arts of furniture, Qianlong reached its peak period, and this period pursued gorgeous decoration and fine carvings. In order to win more, the extremes will be reversed, and too much luxury will reach the extreme. The decline has already shown signs. The furniture of the Qianlong period has already told people that the future is in vain. Except for the complicated and delicate decoration, there is no more unconventional, but not knowing what to do. Measures. There was a long stagnation in the Jiaqing period. It can be seen from the documents of the Royal Office at that time that with the reduction of workload, furniture production is declining. The folk furniture of this period is mostly based on the imitation of the court style, but it is more simple and rough, and there is no innovation. After the Daoguang period, internal and external troubles followed, and China was subjected to arbitrary slaughter by foreign powers. The furniture industry has also ended its glorious years. Even the furniture of the Emperor Guangxu’s marriage was handed over to the folk woodwork workshop. The vulgarity and simplicity are unbelievable. Folk furniture is based on Jing Zuo, Su Zuo and Guang. Despite the concentration of a large number of skilled craftsmen in the capital, the furniture produced was dull; Su Zuo furniture swept away the elegance and simplicity of the past, and became rigid and stylized. The hardwood furniture preserved in some famous gardens in Jiangnan was this period. The products are widely influenced by foreign furniture. Lion claw feet, shell ornaments, and grass patterns are often found in Guangzuo furniture, but they still have the feeling of being piled up and smashed, and the work is rough. Research, appreciation, and identification of classical artists depend on relevant materials. The real objects are part of them, which are from the world or unearthed; other models from the chamber murals, other materials, handed down paintings, book illustrations, and written materials. Our ancestors have a strong burial style, leaving us with a history, concrete and image in the underground, which is a precious asset. Longitudinal comparison and comparison, horizontal analysis and discrimination can provide a deeper understanding of the development of Chinese furniture. The so-called vertical comparison and comparison is to incorporate the process of production, development and change of furniture into a large historical background. After comparison and comparison, we can see their inherited relationship and shape change; through analysis of furniture and At that time, the links between social politics, economy, religion, and daily life could clarify the lines and characteristics of the changes in furniture style in various historical periods. Studying the progress in science, technology, and materials technology of various dynasties, we can master the characteristics of furniture making, material use, and craftsmanship. Other aspects of knowledge. The so-called horizontal analysis and identification refers to the comprehensive analysis from four aspects: modeling, crafts, materials and decoration. The styling is the most important. The different historical periods have obvious traces on the furniture styling. For example, the furniture in the Tang Dynasty is circular in shape, while the Song Dynasty is mainly rectangular, and the Ming Dynasty furniture is more symmetrical. It is characterized by tall and beautiful, and the early Qing Dynasty was dominated by generosity. The decorative features are also important aspects of recognizing furniture. Each era has specific themes and contents. The techniques and decorative patterns are also different. For example, the Ming Dynasty prefers small-area relief or openwork, while the Qing Dynasty prefers large-scale use. Decorative techniques such as carving, enameling, engraving, embedding, and gold and silver painting. In addition, the choice of materials and the different processes of enamel are also important aspects. The above items must be grasped as a whole, comprehensive analysis, contact with the background, and careful identification to understand the true face of classical furniture.

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