Six Panels Chest with Pastel Color Floral Decorations

Late 19th c, pine, mineral colors.  Has appeal of soft colors; double-framing shows quality; in excellent condition.
34½” h. 37” w. 17½” d.

The use of pastel colors, light pink and green, as background for the floral designs on the recessed front panels is quite unusual for a Tibetan chest although the saffron color raised-framing borders is very Tibetan.  The refine floral paintings in soft colors on the panels are quite different from the rougher strokes that characterize Tibetan furniture made before the late 19th century.  The style and soft colors evolved from Chinese and world influence.  This chest was probably made for a wealthy person of the merchant class that rose in status by the end of the 19th century.  The paintings are well preserved even though they are marred in areas by traces of grease.  The grease is from yak butter which was use in cooking and as fuel for lamps in most Tibetan homes.  A thick layer of grease is very hard to remove as too much rubbing can damage the paintings.  As a result, traces of grease on a piece of Tibetan furniture is proof of its antiquity.

The top panel of this chest was originally painted a dark color which faded with age, revealing the panel’s uneven handwork.  The recessed neck below the top has relief carving of angular “continuous life” motif.  The framework of the body is colored a deep green decorated with finely painted scrolling vine and single flower at intervals.  The six panels in front hiding storage space behind are double-framed with raised borders.  Double-framing always indicates good quality.  Inside, a shelf divides the space into upper and lower compartments.  There is a plain green apron at the bottom of the chest.

This chest is all-original and is quite rare today as Tibet has banned any of its antiques from leaving the country.  Many reproductions are made but they do not have the patina which gives an antique its value.