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Carved 18th Century Antique Northern Chinese Altar Temple Cabinet Commode Chest

Carved 18th Century Antique Northern Chinese Altar Temple Cabinet Commode Chest

A truly stunning and extremely rare antique Chinese chest of drawers. Made in Northern China in the late-18th/early-19th Century, this is a superbly decorative, versatile and extremely rare eight-drawer altar temple cabinet. Whether it's used as a hallway console cabinet, a living room decorative piece, a dining buffet or a bedroom chest of drawers, this exceptional, wonderfully aged and very old commode will add real wow-factor, refined antique charm and bygone Oriental splendour to any interior.


Likely made in the Shanxi province of Northern China due to its strong Mongolian and Qing Dynasty (when China was ruled by Mongolia) influences, this exceptional piece is made from reassuringly solid and heavy, wonderfully hued Elm & Cypress wood that has aged beautifully. It was crafted using traditional techniques (the mortice & tenon joinery can be appreciated throughout) and finished with outstanding and rare fine raised relief carvings to the eight drawers, each with its own significance and aged brass handles with petal mounts. The cabinet features substantial legs to support the hefty top with inlaid centre, panelled sides and back, decorative lower and side aprons and eight outstanding, hefty and ornately carved drawers. Lovely traces of the original red lacquer can be seen on the side panelling and in the nooks of the drawers and the tops of two of the lowest drawers. The front and top has gorgeous traces of dark mottled pigment, which break up the rich nutty-brown and golden hues of the wood to wonderful effect.


Having eight drawers is a rarity for an antique Chinese chest and with them all carved in raised bas-relief makes this an even more special item; together with the overall construction, this is another sign that this exceptional piece hails from the Shanxi province. The rare eight drawers may be symbolic of the Eight Immortals of Taoist philosophy. The five upper drawers feature flower motifs set in foliage; the top two drawers have large beautifully ornate lotus flowers in profile (symbolising purity and perfection), with the middle row having two lotus flowers seen from overhead (also associated with enlightenment and peace) and a pomegranate (symbolising fertility). The bottom three drawers have relief carvings of animals running beneath Cypress trees; two of deer (symbolising double longevity and wealth) and one ox (symbolising hard work and persistence.)


This is a really wonderful, stunning, rare, versatile and very old piece and, approaching its third century, is in remarkable condition. It will be a joy to own.



This is in very-good-to-excellent condition, especially for its age. Wonderfully constructed of heavy solid wood, this is structurally sound and built to last. It has aged wonderfully with very few noticeable marks or scratches that don't add to its aged charm. There are some marks and scuffs to the lacquered top which are only really noticeable at certain angles in certain light, which don't really detract and could be re-lacquered but we love it as it is. One of the deer-carved lower drawers has some nicks around the handle which is hardly noticeable and if well looked after this exceptional piece of Chinese history may very well be still as functional and magnificent in another 250 years - please see the photos.



Height - 84cm, Width - 99.5cm, Depth - 52cm, Top Depth - 3.5cm, Top Drawers Internal - H 17cm, L 35cm, W 26cm, Middle Drawers Internal - H 12cm, L 39cm, W 16cm, Lower Drawers Internal - H 19cm, L 39cm, W 16cm, Weight - Circa 30-40kg.

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