19th C, pine, mineral pigments. Authentic antique piece; in excellent condition with painted designs intact.
42¼” h. 52½” w. 18” d.
This is an authentic handcrafted Tibetan chest with mortise-and-tenon construction and painted with natural mineral color pigments. This construction method is from Chinese influence since the 19th century. The brown lacquered top consists of two wood panels. Below the top is a narrow recessed neck with relief carving of gilded angular continuous-life design. The slightly protruding framework has stylized floral designs separated by orange molded struts.
The panels in front are recessed from the framework. There are six big square panels on the top and three narrow ones at the bottom. Each top panel has an orange background and decorated in the middle with a medallion with floriated design and trailing floral design at each corner. The floral designs are in mineral colors of orange and blue on a green background, primary colors used before the mid-19th century. The narrow panels at the bottom has a green background and are decorated with similar floral design and colors. A set of panels on the top level and one below act as doors to the interior storage space . The panels beside each set of doors are stationary. The doors swing open and shut on wooden pegs and can be lifted out by pivoting them to a 90-degree angle.
This chest is an authentic antique as shown by traces of yak butter grease on parts of the surface. Yak is the beast of burden in Tibet. For centuries Tibetans use its fat as oil in cooking and as fuel for their lamps which seem to be burning night and day. After years of exposing to this living ritual, most furniture in a Tibetan home would have collected some grease on its surface. Traces of grease on a Tibetan chest is a good indication it has lived and is a genuine piece of antique. Authentic Tibetan antiques are rare as many were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and since then the Tibetan government has forbidden any antique to leave the country. Many reproductions are made for the tourist market but the value is very different. This beautifully painted chest survived in excellent condition. It would do well in a home with contemporary décor that can be a little plain and austere, giving a room warmth and personality.