Wedding chests and cabinet set
Origin: Zhejiang province
Early 20th century
- 76cm wide x 45cm deep x 174.5cm high
Chest and cabinet sets were used in the home holding clothes and other personal items that were used regularly and within easy reach. Light and easy to carry, they accompanied the bride to her new home. They are beautifully decorated with intricate carving and painting rich with symbolism for a bright future.
On this set one chest has relief carving of figures from a Chinese opera. A second chest depicts magpie and plum blossom, a symbol of happiness. The floral chest of chrysanthemum and peony is a wish for a long, prosperous life.
The cabinet has carved motifs of peony for prosperity and paradise flycatcher among camellia symbolising long life. The carved figure panels are also opera scenes.
With different combinations of carving and painting, each cabinet and chests set is unique. The chests can be stacked together, placed beside the cabinet or used to decorate another room. People have enjoyed the flexibility of use. One customer used chests to store the grandchildren’s board games, a novel way to introduce them to antique furniture.
The chrysanthemum is a symbol of longevity with legends about the long lives of those who drank chrysanthemum tea. It is a popular beverage today helping to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
The peony is pronounced “fugui hua” and fugui means wealth and honour. The flower is therefore a symbol of a wish for wealth and honour, traditionally gained through success in the imperial examinations and a subsequent administrative career.
The original brass metal fittings have floral engraving.