Red sandalwood is very precious and furniture
made from this wood is a national treasure. Red
This Ming Dynasty canopy bed is decorated with Chi dragon patterns and
made from Huanghuali wood. The dragons are finely detailed inside the
circles, surrounding the structure. This Ming-style furniture is very
sandalwood art is considered the cream of Chinese
traditional arts and crafts.
The Ming Dynasty-style canopy bed is made from red sandalwood and is a
reproduction from an original on display at the Palace Museum. The circle
is symbolic of unity for married
The China Red Sandalwood Museum, the nation's first and largest private theme
museum, specializes in the collection, display, and research of classical red
sandalwood furniture and works of art.
The museum was founded by Madam Chan Laiwa in 1999. Although of fairly recent
origin, its creative style of presenting exhibits has won it wide notice both at
home and abroad.
The museum is dedicated to protecting China's historical heritage.
Traditional craftsmanship reached its climax during the Ming (1368-1644) and
Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Ming-style furniture making was highly developed.
Artisans also created masterpieces during the Qing Dynasty by using new
The ability to craft furniture in the Ming and Qing styles is a precious
cultural heritage. With the help of experts, several hundred artisans and use of
good timber, Madam Chan has been able to replicate furniture of that period,
offering people a look into the superb carving skills of Chinese artisans.
Historically, furniture that was both
practical and artistic was usually reserved for imperial use.
This Qing Dynasty cabinet is decorated with a Bogu pattern. Vases are
filled with flowers and incense burns inside special
The Forbidden City served as the palace for emperors
of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Precious wood from all over China was stored in
the "Imperial House" and at the "Manufacturing Department" during the Ming
This Qing-style square table has splayed legs and is intricately
decorated with cloud patterns.
Well-known artisans from north and south China were gathered together to
produce furniture for imperial use. Most of the furniture from the Ming and Qing
dynasties collected by the Palace Museum is representative of use in the
Madam Chan has reproduced much of the furniture collected by the Palace
Museum and has also made architectural miniatures such as the Corner Tower, the
Qian Qiu and the Wan Chuan Pavilions in the Imperial Garden.
While the Palace Museum has supported and helped in the establishment of the
China Red Sandalwood Museum, the latter has brought the ancient heritage of the
Palace Museum back to life and facilitated the passing of Chinese culture to
The China Red Sandalwood Museum owes a lot to Madam Chan's love for
traditional culture and red sandalwood art, for which she has spent large sums
of her own money.
She has transformed her personal hobby into a mission of
preserving Chinese culture. The picture
album Li Zhi Hua Tang embodies the effort put in by her as
curator into the establishment of the museum and its future direction.
This is a detailed model of Qi Nian Dian (the Hall of Praying for Good
Harvest) inside the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It was a gift by the Red
Sandalwood Museum to the Palace Museum in 2005 to mark the 80th
anniversary of the Palace Museum. The scale is one to
Li Zhi Hua Tang China Red Sandalwood Museum, a picture album edited by Chan
Laiwa and published by Cultural Relics Publishing House. pp 300. Price: 380
The author is director of the Palace Museum and vice-minister of culture
(China Daily 02/23/2007 page10)