Generally there are six primary recognized schools of Chinese furniture development:
Lets talk about the fourth of these: Shanxi (Jin) Style Furniture.
Jin (晋) refers to early Shanxi culture (starting in the early Paleolithic period up to the early Western Zhou Dynasty) and in essence refers to Shanxi traditional furniture (山西传统家具). With its roots tracing back to the Wei and Jin Dynasties and becoming mature in the Song and Yuan dynasties, Jin style furniture reached its peak during the Ming Dynasty. It remained constant in style up until the late Qing dynasty.
jìn shì jiājù Jin
Native wood species such as Cypress/Cedar (白木), old Elm (老榆木), Walnut (核桃木), Pine (松木), Poplar (杨木), Locust (槐木), Willow (柳木) and Toon Wood/xiangchun mù (香椿木).
Rich Shanxi merchants were often bankers and money lenders with large courtyard homes, which needed lots of furniture. And while some imported hardwoods were brought to Shanxi from Beijing, logistics costs were high due to its isolated geographic location. Consequently, native wood species were used as substitutes. Walnut was seen as a substitute for Huali. Willow was substituted for Camphor. Elm was used in place of Beech (Jumu/Southern Elm). Production standards at the time, were also very high which is one reason Shanxi style furniture has lasted so long.
This is a magnificently illustrated catalog of one of the most important collections of antique Chinese furniture in the world. A beautiful book depicting rare and unique never before seen pieces from the greater Shanxi region
(Many of the images below are from this book)
Shanxi style furniture, tends to place an emphasis on local techniques. Strong, thicker, heavier lines and ancient, archaic influences pervade with filial piety and local life and culture being common themes. Because the woods were cheaper due to being sourced locally, craftsmen were able to experiment a bit more and be more creative, which brings a certain rich diversity to this style of furniture. Similarities to architectural elements are much more common in this style of furniture as well. Shanxi style furniture, also includes lacquered furniture which employed changing styles of lacquering during each dynasty, typically trunks or large cabinets. It can be confidently stated that Shanxi furniture is very unique.
Next: Part 5: Shanghai style.