18th C, Camphor, Fujian. Height makes it likely used as valued altar table; antique lacquered and carved half-round tables rare.
45” w. 22” d. 36” h.
Half-round tables have been said to be some of the most beautiful furniture to come out of China. One like this red-lacquered high waisted piece is definitely special. It was made taller than most half-round tables and was made to stand by itself, the intention being that this was meant to be an altar table for private ancestral worship. It would support deity figures or family ancestral images, incense burners and offering of food. Buddha and ancestral figures were revered by all classes in China in early periods. The folks would put these figures in high places so they could look up to them to pray for blessings. When not used as an altar table, the elite class would use it to show off antiques and art objects.
This finely crafted table has retained its original red lacquer. The top is made from a thick slab of camphor wood and has a “water-stopping” molded edge. The narrow waist section is pierced by six long “taohuan panels”, a feature associated with early traditional style in China. The arched apron is separated into three sections by legs with sword-ridge molded ends. Each section is decorated with low-relief carvings of scrolling flowers and has beading along the lower edge that continues all the way down the beaded sword-ridge molded legs which terminate in modified hoof feet. The high humpback stretchers between the legs have relief carvings of small “chi” running dragons, a decoration evolved during Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) period. This table is skillfully constructed and finely carved, likely commissioned by someone belonging to the elite scholar/official class. It survived in excellent condition and has a wonderful patina.