Lacking closets, cabinets were the main storage areas for the Ming and Qing elite. Given the size and function of this form, its prominence in any room, the choice of wood and any surface decoration served to enhance and declare status. A tremendous amount of consideration went into providing the critical balance between form and function for these large pieces. Li Yu (1611-1680) in his Xian Qing Ou Ji (Notes Written in a Moment of Idleness) comments at some length about the correct number of boards, shelves and drawers in order to make the best use of space exclaiming, "A cabinet of small size but high capacity is excellent." The present cabinet would certainly have met with his approval.
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