How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.

Square-Table-Chairs-set-with-bone-inlay-Qing-Dynasty-Ningbo-975x580 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.

Generally there are six primary recognized schools of Chinese furniture development:

1) Suzhou

4) Shanxi

2) Guangdong

5) Shanghai

3) Beijing

6) Ningbo

Lets talk about the sixth of these: Ningbo (or Ningshi) Style Furniture

Ningbo Style

Popular in the port city of Ningbo and the eastern Zhejiang region during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and unlike the the grand Jin (Shanxi) style which was owned by wealthy merchants, Ningbo style furniture was more commercial in nature, meaning it was made for and used by the common man.  Ningbo style furniture focuses on finding the perfect blending of function, balance and proportions. Local folk culture and  patterns with auspicious and/or spiritual connotations are common decorative themes. In addition, seeing that Ningbo is a port city, foreign influences can also at times be found in Ningbo style furniture.

English Name:

Ningbo Style Furniture

Chinese Name:

宁式家具
níng shì jiājù
甬作家具
Yǒng zuò jiājù

Ningbo-location-on-map-in-china How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China

Popular Woods

Mahogany/hóngmù (红木), Rosewood/Huali (花梨木), Camphor (樟木), Boxwood (黄杨木), Beech/Southern elm (榉木), Fir (杉木), Cypress/Cedar (白木)  and sometimes imported hardwoods as well (进口的硬木).

ningbo-style-chairs-2-1024x892 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A pair of armless Southern officials hat chairs from Ningbo with bone inlay backrests

Ningbo style furniture was more commercial in nature, meaning it was made for and used by, the common man.

Sometimes also called 甬作家具 “Yǒng zuò jiājù”   refers to the territory of Yongjiang IE Ningbo. Ningbo style encompasses the eastern Zhejiang region and nearby styles as well, though the actual Ningbo style itself tends to be quite distinct from other Zhejiang styles.

Ningbo style furniture is often quite colorful, exhibiting either “painted-on” red lacquers (meaning it retains some visibility of the wood grain below) or utilizes decorative techniques such as carvings and/or inlays. Contrasting colors between dark and light colored woods are recurring theme. Better quality woods such as rosewood, are often used as insets on the front surfaces, with lesser quality woods used for the frame and other surfaces.

ningbo-style-chairs-2-1024x892 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A-Republican-period-bed-from-Zhejiang-and-Ningbo-areas-994x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
Ningbo-bed-768x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
Ningbo-sun-cabinet-in-red-1-1024x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
small-ningbo-zhejiang-style-cabinet-2 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
Ningbo-bone-inlay-antique-furniture-681x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A-ningbo-cabinet-made-from-cypress-with-rosewood-inlay-panels-3 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
AW1801-Ningbo-cabinet How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.

Due to it’s close proximity to the sea, fish glues, shells and even cow bones were plentiful materials to be used for decorative inlays and mosaics (of which cow bone was the most commonly used). This decorative inlay technique began in the Tang dynasty and was perfected in the Ming and Qing dynasties when it began to be applied to furniture. Another popular decorative technique was gold and silver leafing using a method that is said to have originated in Shandong

Ningbo-bed-768x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A late Qing/Republican era rosewood canopy bed with bone inlay work.

Ningbo style furniture is often quite colorful, exhibiting either “painted-on” red lacquers (meaning it retains some visibility of the wood grain below) or utilizes decorative techniques such as carvings and/or inlays.

Ningbo-sun-cabinet-in-red-1-1024x1024 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A Ningbo “sun cabinet” in red lacquer
A-ningbo-cabinet-made-from-cypress-with-rosewood-inlay-panels-3 How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.
A Ningbo cabinet made from cypress wood with rosewood inset door panels

Previous: Part 5: Shanghai style.

One Reply to “How to identify Antique Chinese Furniture using the 6 main schools. Part 6: Ningbo style.”

  1. I am utterly impressed with the amount of detailed information I have just read. Is greatly appreciated to whoever put this together.

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