Continuous yoke-back armchairs are a classic type of Ming chairs. The ranking of chairs in the Ming period was hierarchical with large size and high back chairs being deemed more important seats reserved for the master of the house and senior guests. The present examples with their extremely high backs must mean they were seats of great importance at the time.
Except for a beaded edge on the seat frame and a flat-banded edge on the front apron underneath the seat, this pair of chairs is completely plain. Consequently, its height and statuesque proportions are emphasised. The timber chosen for the back splats has whorl patterns, showing huanghuali wood at its best. While the design of these chairs is standard, their exceptional height and fine proportion places them among the best examples of their type.
Comparable examples except for the inlaid material on the back splat are illustrated in Nancy Berliner, Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th centuries, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1996, p. 111. For a similar but single chair in the Vok Collection, see Pure Form: klassische Möbel aus China / Pure Form: Classical Chinese Furniture Vok collection, Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln, Munich, 2004, pl. 10.
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