Pair of Yokeback armchairs

L: W: H:
Nanmu wood
Fujian province, China

A pair of antique yoke-back chairs from Fujian province. The arm chairs have a high back with decorative woodcarvings of an auspicious Chinese character and a deer symbolising long life to the one sitting there. The chairs were reserved for the most senior and important family members of the household. The chairs are pretty heavy and of very good quality.

Yoke-Back armchairs were very popular from as early as the Chinese Song Dynasty ( 960 to 1279 AD). The curvy head rail resembles the brimmed hats of Chinese government officials and so these chairs are also often referred to as Official’s Hat Armchairs (‘guanmaoyi’). At first this type of chair was used by royalty but then spread to the elite classes. The curves of the back splat and the arms give dynamism and an aura of power and energy to the design, while stretchers added strength to the legs. The apron below the seat would sometimes be decorated with carvings, while the back splat would often include a painting or carving of an auspicious symbol such as a dragon or bat to symbolise, for example, good luck or prosperity.

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