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Ming dynasty furniture represents a fine fusion of material, function, and design. The mellow wood hues, fine grain, and succinct shapes combine to make fluid forms featuring "precision, skill, and refinement." The residences of literati in the Ming dynasty were filled with overtones and meaning, turning furniture and display antiquities into embodiments of aesthetic tastes and tendencies in literati life at the time.

''Flush-sided corner-leg'' rectangular black-lacquer table

″The Eighteen Scholars″ Scroll 1 (Zither)

This painting shows figures sitting around a ″flush-sided corner-leg″rectangular black-lacquer table, so named for the level surfaces of its legs and corners. The tabletop is inlaid with a piece of burl wood featuring beautiful grain for a fresh and unusual appearance. On the daybed is placed an arched back support, the arms of which curve outwards. The figure leans against the backrest, which has no legs or seat. Also shown here is a rose chair with back and armrests of equal height. Extending in front is a footrest of equal width. The entire chair uses round pieces of wood and appears quite light. Complemented by its beautiful color, it has a scholarly air of literati elegance.

″Carved polychrome lacquer″ stool , waist-drum porcelain stool has openings

The "carved polychrome lacquer" stool features red and black lacquer engraved with hooked cloud patterns. The waist-drum porcelain stool has openings in the shape of crab apple blossoms as well as drum-stud patterns. This flat-bottomed stool is hollow, making it convenient to move about.

 Large carved polychrome lacquer daybed
 Large carved polychrome lacquer daybed

″The Eighteen Scholars″ Scroll 2 (Go)

The large carved polychrome lacquer daybed has a soft woven palm-fiber surface, bulging legs, and runners. The lacquer is carved with cloud-hook, reticulated, and geometric patterns that circle the daybed. The carved lines reveal alternating layers of red, black, and green lacquer. The time and expense of producing lacquered furniture meant they were very expensive, thus representing the status and wealth of the owner.

 Porcelain stool

This porcelain stool is covered with light celadon glaze, the body engraved with dragons shuttling amongst winding lotus and cloud patterns. This design of ″dragons amongst flowers″ appears later than dragons among clouds, representing a decorative motif popular in the middle Ming dynasty. The top and bottom rims of the porcelain stool are ringed by drum studs in relief, while the bottom is decorated with a flower base. Covered with floral decoration in imitation of brocade, this is also known as an ″embroidered stool.″

 Black-lacquered table

″The Eighteen Scholars″ Scroll 3 (Calligraphy)

In front and behind the standing "insert" screen are a black-lacquered table and high-waisted rectangular table both with decorative legs (the table waist generally being the tabletop and apron). Both tables are decorated with cusped arches, with both the middle and end portions of the legs featuring cloud-wing patterns and raised ridges. The tabletops are made of marble with black and gray in the white suggesting the cloudy mountains of Song dynasty Mi Family (Mi Fu and Mi Youren) landscape painting, thus adding a painterly touch to the furniture. The forms and decoration of the furniture here all belong to Ming dynasty styles.

 High-waisted rectangular table

The mottled bamboo chair here is meticulously designed. Below the seat are round woven forms, and connected to the front is an extension serving as a footrest. Mottled bamboo furniture, because of its rarity, brownish coloring, and unusual elegance, was especially appreciated and favored by scholars and members of the nobility.

 Mottled bamboo chair
 Table with a constricted waist

″The Eighteen Scholars″ Scroll 4 (Painting)

Placed within the courtyard is a daybed and table with a constricted waist. The legs do not touch the ground, instead connected to runners on all four sides. The inward-curving horse-hoof feet rest on round balls, and the middle of the legs feature protruding cloud wings. The inlaid stone tabletop has natural unusual patterning. Also shown here is a rose chair made of exceptionally fine and round materials to create a delicate and beautiful form of red and black. Pleasing to the eye, it was a favored type of chair among literati and upper classes.

This rattan stool was made from woven bamboo and rattan with turtle-foot-shaped feet at the bottom. The seat has a very decorative embroidered cover. The various types of seating in these paintings all symbolize lofty status and reflect the beauty of refined and classical handicrafts at the time.

 Rose chair
 Rattan stool