Judging the manufacturing age of mahogany furniture does not seem to be as complicated and difficult as the dating of Ming-style furniture. One is because of its short history, it has only been more than three hundred years since the production of the Qing Dynasty; the other is that the circulated objects are rich and can be Do various comparisons and researches; thirdly, mass production is still in modern times, and many relevant knowledge can be learned from it. Therefore, the dating of mahogany furniture may be smoother. However, the varieties of mahogany furniture are complex, with many producing areas and different shapes. It is not as easy as some people imagine to make an exact date.
Generally speaking, the dating of mahogany furniture can follow the method of identifying the age of hardwood furniture in the Ming and Qing dynasties, starting with the mastering of the basic laws. According to the identification of furniture varieties, many of the varieties and shapes of furniture have relatively chronological characteristics, which can be used as one of the basis for identification. In the early Qing Dynasty, the manufacture of mahogany furniture inherited the Ming-style style, and most of the categories maintained the traditions of the Ming Dynasty. The craftsmanship was also roughly the same, such as four-headed armchairs, writing chairs, armchairs, flat-headed cases, book cases, rounded cabinets, etc. Rarely will be imitated after Qianlong. Therefore, we can determine their dates in the early Qing Dynasty.
Some people believe that all hardwood furniture made of mahogany, rosewood and other materials are mostly Qing style or late Qing, Republican period furniture with colonial colors, and they say that if the Ming style is used, the age of the material and the age of the form do not match. It is known that it is a modern imitation. Therefore, when the materials of Ming-style furniture made of mahogany and rosewood are seen, some people conclude that they are imitations and dismiss them. This argument of judging mahogany furniture based only on the main age of the material not only had a very bad influence on the dating of hardwood furniture in the Ming and Qing dynasties, but also produced a big deviation. Here, it is necessary to explain more.
First of all, the age of the use of mahogany or rosewood began as early as the early Qing Dynasty at the latest. According to inferences from relevant literature, perhaps even earlier, it is by no means possible to manufacture furniture from mahogany and rosewood until after the middle of the Qing Dynasty. As for whether these woods have been gradually used since the late Ming Dynasty, because few people have paid attention and studied so far, more accurate conclusions need to be explored in the future; but it is a fact that Ming-style mahogany furniture is found more in Jiangnan area, and it is true. It is not a modern imitation, but a relic from the early Qing Dynasty. Therefore, we cannot ignore the use of mahogany to make Ming-style furniture in the early Qing Dynasty and its special and important role in the development of hardwood furniture in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Here, we can take the mahogany flat-head case with compartments, which is called "small desk" in Jiangnan area as an example. According to the introduction and analysis of the author of "Ming Furniture Research", this kind of Ming-style chuck tenon flat head case with a smaller body size believes that because it "has a compartment", it "affects the firmness of the legs", and it is not appropriate to put more "Things", therefore, "the utilization rate is not large", and the physical objects are "not much handed down." During our investigation, we found that the actual situation is exactly the opposite. This kind of small desk is not only small and exquisite, simple and elegant, but also because of the compartments, it is very suitable for stacking books and arranging station utensils in the study and painting studio, so it is widely used in Jiangsu and Zhejiang. Because of its popularity, such small desks are still common today. In addition to mahogany, its materials include beech, phoebe, huanghuali, rosewood, etc. It is one of the typical varieties of Ming-style furniture flat-headed furniture, and it is also a product with distinctive local characteristics.
If this kind of small book case, as the author of "Ming Furniture Research" said, is a flat-tou case that has been in the Ming Dynasty, which is not well-utilized and not solid, then it is impossible to imitate it in the middle and late Qing Dynasty, because From the aesthetic function to the practical requirements, it is impossible to be so popular again. From the variety and shape of small desks, it can be confirmed that it was not only after the mid-Qing Dynasty that mahogany was used to make hardwood furniture, let alone that all Ming-style furniture made of mahogany were imitated in modern times. There are many examples of mahogany Ming-style furniture in the early Qing Dynasty and the imitation Ming-style furniture in the middle and late Qing Dynasty. As long as they are repeatedly compared, they can be distinguished and distinguished.
In the middle and late Qing Dynasty, there were many innovations in the varieties and shapes of mahogany furniture. The generations of various new varieties and new styles of furniture, such as writing desks, mirror tables, large wardrobes, sets of tables, recliners, double coffee tables, and three-legged furniture Single round tables, Western-style armchairs, single seats, etc., are generally much easier. Some of them are varieties made during the Republic of China and have a direct connection with modern life. The gusseted screen-back chair that prevailed in the late Qing Dynasty is a new style between the armchair and the chair. The gusset and screen back of this chair can be installed and detached to facilitate packaging and transportation. .
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