Chinese furniture in B&W: historical perspectives from old china

black and white photo of antique chinese chairs and tea table antique chinese armchairs

This particular image was taken from Ralphrepo’s photo stream on flicker and it apparently comes from a book called “The Face Of China As Seen By Photographers & Travelers 1860-1912.” He has a much longer and interesting commentary with a snip in which the furniture itself is mentioned. “Socially, the furniture belies a family of some affluence. The wooden foot stools at the time were used not for the height challenged but rather to provide insulation against having to put one’s feet onto a cold and unheated floor.”

Chinese Antique Wedding Bridal Sedan Chair chinese sedan chair for weddings

This  image of a Sedan Chair, is entitled “Bride On Her Way To Wedding, Fuzhou Fujian China” and was taken from Ralphrepo’s photo stream (if you are wondering about the basket, think “wedding veil”).

Chinese drop leaf or gateleg table Antique chinese drop leaf or gateleg table

This stereoview image also comes from Flickr, this time from Wolfgang Wiggers photostream. It was taken Guangzhou in the  1860’ies (more commonly known at that time as “canton”). Notice the gate leg or “drop-leaf” table seen in the center background

colonial shanghai era antique vanity Colonial era shanghai hong mu vanity dresser

Another interesting image from Ralphrepo, in which a side view of a vanity can be seen. This particular image was also taken in Canton in 1868 by John Thomson.

colonial chinese sidetable shanghai style antique colonial chinese sidetable shanghai style

From a German photographic album with photographs from the Tsingtau (Qingdao) area around 1900. This  image also comes from Wolfgang Wiggers flickr page.

boxer rebellion rustic antique chinese farm table - wine table

A bit of a gruesome image, this photo was taken in the early 1900’s during the boxer rebellion. Nevertheless it it shows a very common long bench and farm table in a typical environment. This particular one has been modified to suite modern use by shortening the depth. The inset stone panel is not original.

chinese antique round side table

This image was found on a Chinese website and really needs no introduction…

Criminal Being wipped in china chinese standing screen stand

Another unique, though not quite as gruesome image taken in 1900 and  entitled  “Chinese punishment: whipping a lawbreaker.” Notice the frame unit in which the prisoner is bent across? Though I would assume this piece was purpose built, it nevertheless suspiciously looks quite similar in form to the base of a Chinese standing screen. Or maybe a large stacking food box…

chinese street vendor chinese street vendors work chest

A work chest /  toolbox from street vendor

chinese barber's stool chinese antique barbers stool

An antique Chinese wooden barber’s stool. Does your hairdresser have one of these?

By the way, if you are interested in seeing more of these fascinating images, here are a few potential books:

Chinese jewely box and mirror stand Chinese rosewood mirror stand jewelry box

A jewelry box sitting atop a high side table known as a “flower stand.”


A photo of a  “heavenly wheelbarrow” (the caption on the back of the wheelbarrow says  “Heavenly Wheelbarrow) taken in 1910 in or near Qingdao.

Related Books & Reading

6 Comment

  1. Justin says:

    The pictures of domestic life in China makes feel for how powerless women were in those times. Also what is with the girl with a basket on her head in the second set of pictures.

  2. Roger says:

    Basically the bride is not supposed to see anyone before the wedding…. 😉

  3. Justin Liu says:

    Dead sexy I say.

  4. Roger says:

    You should see the “Xiao Jiao” (the small tiny bound feet) 😉

  5. Great piece of furniture. Chinese furniture is renowned across the world for its elegant look and durability.

  6. Clint says:

    I like the jewelry box! Looks great!
    Chinese stool

Leave a Reply