Stools have been known to the Chinese for over two thousand years. However, the derivation of the character “deng” for stool also means to ascend suggesting the stool may well have been used as a step on to the bed more than as a seat. Stools are very diverse in design and size and were widely used as the informal seat.
The classic stool design is square with humpback stretchers and inward horsehoof feet. The stretcher is said to resemble a bridge. Stools are often used as side tables having the additional benefit of providing extra seating when needed.
Benches appear to have developed later than chairs, becoming popular during the Song dynasty. They are the ideal accompaniment to the dining table as they allow more people to enjoy a meal. While the chair is for the individual the bench is for the family as it naturally draws people together. The size of the bench depended on how and where it was to be used. Most were designed to seat two people while others could comfortably seat seven or more. The classic bench is the Ming style bench with inward tapered legs.