Good wood on antiques

(Beijing weekend)
Updated: 2007-06-04 10:33

One place to appreciate the real, rare red sandalwood furniture of the Ming and Qing dynasties is to visit the China Red Sandalwood Museum.

Almost 20,000 visitors took advantage of free entry to the museum on May 18, International Museum Day, where they enjoyed the genuine antique furniture and reproductions.

Good wood on antiques
Visitors appreciate rare old furniture at the Red Sandalwood Museum.

Squatting in front of a Ming-Dynasty cabinet, Gao Jianhua, a furniture enthusiast from Shandong Province, used a magnifying glass to study the detailed patterns carved on the furniture. "Ming furniture features flat backs decorated with straight or curved wooden patterns and is sometimes embedded with marbles," Gao said.

Pointing at the simple flowers carved at the bottom of the four round end legs, Gao said that if it were made in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), there would be many more leaves and petals to depict flowers. Moreover, the round shape of each leg is a feature of Ming furniture.

Many female visitors showed great interest in a imitation bridal chamber in the Forbidden City. The red sandalwood canopied bed, mahogany lamp, dressing table, long table, square desk and coat hanger adopt traditional popular patterns and reflect folk customs.

The most precious furniture is made of red sandalwood, rosewood and red wild jujube wood, said Qu Xiaolin, a staff member of the museum.

As a sandalwood tree can only grow one-third of a meter in 500 years, the logs for such furniture is rare, and some businessmen dealing in the ancient furniture treat common wood with a dark stain and sell it as "sandalwood".

The museum, founded in 1999, is located near the Gaobeidian ancient furniture market, a street where 300 stores sell antique Chinese furniture and reproductions, along Jingtong (Beijing-Tongzhou) expressway.

The museum has become a window into the culture of ancient furniture. After visiting the museum, it is advisable to pay a visit to the nearby furniture market.


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