Decoration Patterns of Classical Furniture of China 中国家具样式

The Furniture from Ming and Qing Dynasties, especially the Qing-style furniture(清式家具Qīngshì jiājù), has attached particular importance to the application of decoration as the way of embodying its rich cultural connotations(the connotations of a particular word or name are the ideas or qualities which it makes you think of). That is why the decoration of the furniture is in conformity with the popular gorgeous and sumptuous styles advocated in Qing Dynasty(清朝Qīngcháo). In terms of the decorative patterns, except the geometric designs, the furniture from Ming and Qing dynasties tend to use plants, animals, characters and other historical stories and folk tales to express emotions such as devotion, expectation, pursuit and blessing.

The decoration of the classic furniture embodies different meanings and implications mainly from the following four aspects.

The first one is to use different kinds of flowers, grasses or other plants as the decoration, comparing their special traits to the moralities and attributes of people. For example, the lotus flower stands for purity and nobility, while the peony symbolizes the riches and honor, daffodil(a daffodil is a yellow spring flower with a central part shaped like a tube and a long stem) for elegance, chrysanthemum for longevity as well as the integrity with great fortitude, and the Chinese flowering crabapple is compared to those gentlemen of honor or the talented and good-looking women. The megranate and grape with many seeds embody people’s wishes to have more sons or grandsons with more blessings. Besides, the bamboo and the pine are regarded as the best embodiment of the attribute of nobleness and integrity with great fortitude of people.

The second one is to use characters to express people’s pursuit of auspiciousness, longevity, riches and honor and other wonderful dreams such as the “福(Blessing or good fortune)” design, “萬(ten thousand)”design, “喜(happiness)”design and “寿(longevity)” design are themselves the embodiment of people’s wishes to have more blessings and enjoy happiness. The “萬” design for example has integrated the nice implication of “being happy and auspicious for good” mentioned in Buddhism and is favored by emperors, generals and ministers of state as well as the ordinary people.

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