Benches are classified according to their size: large benches such as the present are known as chundeng, or ‘spring bench’, long and narrow examples are called tiaodeng, while those that can accommodate two people are named errendeng. These benches feature in the classic 15th-century text Lu Ban jing [Classic of Lu Ban], which provide specific instructions on their appropriate size and shape. A line drawing of a bench of this type from a late Ming version of the Lu Ban jing, is published in the catalogue to the exhibition Ming Furniture, Grace Wu Bruce Co., Ltd, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 60 (left and top right). An illustration of a bench of similar design is included in Sancai tuhui [Assembled pictures of the three realms], the Ming dynasty encyclopedia (fig. 1).
Benches of such large size are unusual; compare a slightly smaller bench with round members and the spandrels carved with lingzhi, from the collection of Dr Otto Burchard, illustrated in Gustav Ecke, Chinese Domestic Furniture, Hong Kong, 1962, pl. 56, no. 42; another with cloud-shaped spandrels, in the Haven collection, included in the exhibition Classical Chinese Huanghuali Furniture, University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2016, cat. no. 26; and one with square members, but a hard seat, was included in the exhibition Ming Furniture, op.cit., cat. no. 28. See also a line drawing of a large bench with cloud-shaped spandrels, illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture. Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, Hong Kong, 1990, vol. II, pl. A53.
Further examples were sold at auction, such as a pair from the Hung collection, illustrated in Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, Chinese Furniture: One Hundred Examples from the Mimi and Raymond Hung Collection, New York, 1996, pp. 54-5, no. 7, and sold in these rooms, 8th April 2014, lot 61; and another sold at Christie’s London, 10th November 2015, lot 387.
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