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

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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.”

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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”).

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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


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…

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A work chest /  toolbox from street vendor

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

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

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


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Bosshard in China offers a comprehensive sweep of black and white photographs and documentary films produced by Swiss photojournalist Walter Bosshard. Living and travelling extensively in China from 1933 to 1939, Bosshard was one of the earliest journalists to record this critical decade in Chinese and world history. Walter Bosshard (1892–1975) was a pioneer in the field of photojournalism. A master of both the word and the photographic eye, he made a name for himself as an adventurer and bridge builder between Asia and Europe, reporting on key political events and daily life.

For those so inclined, you can buy the book here


6 Replies to “Chinese furniture in B&W: historical perspectives from old china”

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

  3. Dead sexy I say.

  4. 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. I like the jewelry box! Looks great!
    Chinese stool

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