This is a very handsome scholar's huanghuali chest with almost all of it's original hardware. The chest measures 17 1/4" long by 10 3/4" deep by 9 1/2" high and still has all of its original hand wrought bronze hardware. A 1 1/2" deep tray fits inside the chest - this was recently restored as one of the corner rests had come loose and was re-glued in position. The bottom of the chest is not polished.There are few nicks in the wood from extended usage. (A very similar chest was sold through E-Gavel auction on October 4, 2012 for $13,500.)
Of rectangular form, the wood has a smooth-grained texture,; and the hardware is a cloud-shaped lock-plate set flush and bail handles on the two ends. The hinges on the back are brass and held in the wood with brass pins - it is very possible that these are not the original hinges. The chest is in generally good condition with nice old soft yellowish patina. There is one 1 1/2" long crack in the lower right corner of the lid where the top of the lid and the side piece have become slightly separated. (This could be remedied with SuperGlue and a clamp). And there is a small punched in hole in the back of the lower section - about 1/2" long. We date the piece to the early Qing dynasty, circa 1725-1820s.
Huanghuali ("yellow flowering pear wood"), a type of exotic rosewood, has long been revered as one of the most desirable woods in the Chinese furniture making tradition. The color of huanghuali ranges from golden-yellow to reddish-brown. Originally, the wood was known only as “huali,” which means “pear tree flower.” “Huang” (yellow) was added to describe the surface of old huali wood that has mellowed over years of exposure to light.
Huanghuali has a sweet fragrance that distinguishes this wood from hongmu, a similar-looking but pungent-smelling wood. The finest examples have a beautiful grain that can form abstract or even figural patterns on the surface. At times it is reminiscent of a mountain landscape. The finest huanghuali has a translucent shimmering surface with abstractly figured patterns that delight the eye--those appearing like "ghost faces" were highly prized. In photos 1,2 and 3 you can see a couple of these whirly round spots known as these "ghost faces."