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  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    1500-1560 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved lacquer on wood, with woven mat seat

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir Harry Garner and Lady Garner

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 31

This folding armchair is among the Museum's most important Chinese treasures. One of the most renowned of all imperial palace workshops was the Orchard Factory. According to a number of later sources, the Orchard Factory was set up in the new capital, Beijing, at the beginning of the Ming dynasty in order to produce the finest carved lacquer. The chair may be a product of that workshop. Paintings reveal that folding chairs were used by Ming emperors when on their travels.He might be hunting, inspecting territories or making sacrifices at the tombs of his ancestors. The chair is decorated with patterns of five-clawed dragons and lotus flowers. This chair carries the mark of the Xuande reign period (1426-35), although stylistically it would appear to date from rather later, towards the mid-16th century.

Physical description

Large folding horseshoe armchair decorated with carved red lacquer on a wood core. The carefully built up layers of hardened lacquer, the red colour of which is achieved by the adding of mercuric sulphide (cinnabar), are carved with patterns of writhing five-clawed dragons among clouds. The arms and rail form one continuous curve. The soft mat seat is woven with a diamond lozenge pattern. Between the front leg stiles is a footstool, hinged on two wood pins, which rests with two legs on the front foot stretcher. This is decorated with lotuses in carved red lacquer.
A six-character mark of Xuande is incised on the rear of the splat.

Place of Origin

China (made)


1500-1560 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved lacquer on wood, with woven mat seat


Height: 114.5 cm

Descriptive line

Folding armchair of carved red lacquer on wood, 1500-1560, Ming dynasty, Chinese.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Garner, Harry (1979) Chinese Lacquer, London-Boston: Faber and Faber, p. 138, pl. 82




East Asia Collection

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