Attribute to 16th/17th c, deep carved stone, Northern China.
This pair of stone bases supporting wood columns of a house was important to the construction of a house in old China. It prevents wood-rot from hot and humid weather, and termites from moving from the ground soil to the vulnerable wooden uprights above. These bases are often roughly hewn stone blocks, but in manor houses, are usually carved into elaborate shapes and ornamented with auspicious symbols. Both bases shown here have hand-chiseled deep carvings and were probably from a manor.
The top six-sided base has a disc top with a small depression in the middle, probably for insertion of a newel post, and double rows of carved stylized lotus petals below the disc before flaring out in an undulating diaper. Each depressed stone panel below has deep carving of vases of flowers or branches showing stylized bird or twining chi-dragons sitting on top.
The stone base below has a thick disc top with two levels of carved symbolic geometric designs. It sits on a column with six recessed panels, each showing deep carving of floral designs conveying meanings of purity, modesty and hidden beauty, wealth and good fortune. This six-sided column sits on a plinth with nubby relief carvings on each side. These bases are each chiseled out of one block of stone, very labor-intensive, and today can be considered a sculptural work of art.
These stone bases are now rare as all architectural products, stone as well as wood carved structures, have been banned from leaving China to preserve its architectural heritage. They were able to be taken out of China before the embargo, so they are a rare find today. An ingenious decorative and useful way to use them is to stack them up and use them as a unique chair-side table, or station them by a doorway or on a patio with a candle or other kind of lighting on top to show the way.