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Age of Chinese Furniture


Generally mostly around 100 – 120 years (Late Qing Dynasty) depending on the style i..e. Ming or Qing style.

As we cannot date a piece of furniture accurately and concisely, we give a range of 20 years either 80 – 100 years of age or 100 – 120 years old.

For Republican-age furniture (1911 – 1920s) or what is popularly known as Shanghainese-style (chic chinoiserie and art deco) with a strong fusion of East and West cultural influence, the age is around 80 – 90 years old.

Shanghai was once a treaty port of China with a strong European presence and occupation in the 1920 – 30s. Western culture and practices were thus introduced into Shanghai and furniture made during this period has a cross of eastern and western influences.


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Chinese Furniture is not only the essence of the culture of 5,000 years, but also the crystallization of the Chinese people’s wisdom.

Classic Chinese Furniture Vs Vernacular Furniture

It is divided into two distinct classes, the classical and the vernacular, or what is commonly known as country or provincial furniture. In vernacular or country furniture, the austerity and regal lines associated with classical furniture has given way to freer, often more imaginative forms. Classical furniture is the expensive domain of the social elite, and thus it tends to adhere to aristocratic norms of beauty and craftsmanship while vernacular furniture was traditionally used by the common and thereby escaped the firm demands and censorship of literati taste. It personifies freedom, flamboyance, charm, vigour and exuberance.

Wood associated with classic Chinese Furniture is a family known as rosewood. Long gone by the end of the 18th Century, the Chinese looks towards alternative wood largely Elmwood. For Vernacular furniture depending on where these originated from either Northern or Southern China, the former Northern Elm, Cyprus and Pine, in the latter Southern Elm also known as Jumu.

Northern & Southern Styles

Country furniture can be separated according to southern regions with a Southern style and northern regions with a Northern style. Because of better economic conditions, the furniture in the South is usually more superior than the North in China. Usually, the Southern style furniture is very delicate and exquisite with many refined carvings and beautiful gold leaf paintings. The Northern style furniture is very strong, thick, bulky, simple and always in a large scale. Most of the furniture is made in the wood known as Elm (Ulmus sp.) which is a deciduous tree found in the temperate regions of China and Japan and at one period in Europe until the Dutch Elm disease wiped out the entire forest. The main characteristic of this wood is its very even and orderly grain. The northern Elmwood has a slightly yellowish colouration and that from the southern area, a dark red.

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