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Details & Cataloguing

Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection

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Hong Kong

A HUANGHUALI COUCH-BED, LUOHAN CHUANG
LATE MING DYNASTY
of elegant proportions, the seat frame of standard mitre, mortise and tenon construction with exposed tenons on the short sides and supported by three transverse braces, mortised and tennoned into the long members of the frame, two additional braces mortised and tennoned into the short frame members and the transverse braces at each end for further support, drilled for soft seat (restored with coconut webbing and old mat seat), the edge of the frame completely flat above flat aprons mitred, mortise and tennoned into and half-lapped onto the straight legs ending in low hoof feet, rectangular stretchers mortised and tennoned into the top of the legs behind the aprons for further support, the back and arms made of a single piece of wood with breadboard ends and finishing in a graceful outward curve at the top
91 by 202.5 by 86.4 cm., 35 3/4  by 79 3/4  by 34 in.
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Exhibited

Grace Wu Bruce, Chan Chair and Qin Bench, The Dr. S. Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese Furniture II, Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1998, cat. no. 21, pp. 100-101.
The Dr. S. Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese Furniture
, The Macao Museum of Art, Macau, 2003.

Catalogue Note

"This luohan Couch bed excites me as much as my canopy bed, as it feels leisurely rather than formal."

Couch beds with original back and arms made of huanghuali wood datable to the classical period are extremely rare. The rarity of this type stems from the fact that the arms and back are easily removable and prone to become dislocated from their base.

This classic completely plain couch bed is a superb example of excellent modelling and elegant proportions. The strong linear lines of the seat, legs and low shaped hoof feet, combined with the very gently arched back and arms, convey the essence of guzhuo, loosely translated as 'ancient and primitive' simplicity, evoking a sense of timelessness, harmony and calm.

See Laurence Sickman, 'Simplicity and Subtlety: The Decorative Arts in China', Apollo, March 1973, London, p. 270 for an example of a plain huanghuali couch-bed in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and Nancy Berliner, Beyond the Screen: Chinese Furniture of the 16th and 17th Centuries, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1996 for another related example.

Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection

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Hong Kong