Oriental Arts - Chinese Chairs
Chinese first used chairs and stools during the Tang
Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). By the end of the Song
Dynasty (960 – 1279 AD) all parts of society had
moved away from the earlier mat level culture still
prevalent in other Asian furniture to this higher
level of seating. However, chairs were far less
common than simple stools and reflected the status
and authority of the user.
One of the earliest forms of Chinese chairs to appear
were armchairs with protruding head rails, which can
be seen in drawings from as early as the 6th century.
By the Ming Dynasty, this style had been refined into
the Official’s Hat armchair – a style that continued
to be common throughout China for hundreds of years.
This and the other most common type of Chinese chair
– the horseshoe armchair – are included in our own
range of furniture. Folding chairs also developed
early on in Chinese history, and seem to have been
used extensively during Ming times for travelling or
for easy storage.
All types of chair would incorporate a footrest at
the front to raise the sitter’s feet off the cold
floor. Most Ming chairs also included soft seats made
of matting, which was threaded through the frame. The
same type of chair tended to be used for several
different purposes, whether for dining, for sitting
at a writing or painting table, or as a pair in a