Zitan panel of foliate form with woven design

China, Qing dynasty, 19th century

Length: 11 3/4 inches, 30 cm

Thickness: 1 inch, 2.5 cm

A zitan panel of six-lobed foliate form, with straight side railings and a short panel base. The surface is carved with a dense woven design in low relief and a branch of bamboo leaves emerging from the lower end. The flat surface meets the sides with a sloping, convex beaded rim in wide band. The wood has the purplish hue typical of zitan, with characteristic minute silvery streaks.

This elegantly carved zitan panel is unusual for its fully decorated surface. Due to its heavy weight and fully carved decoration, this panel might have been used as an ornament or insert into a large piece of furniture. However, due to its size, it may have also been used as a stand or tray. A hardwood tray made of a single piece of jichimu in a floral design, comparable in shape and dated to the early 19th century, is illustrated in Wood from the Scholar’s Table.[1]

  1. Piccus, R. P. ed. Wood from the Scholar’s Table: Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles, Gulliver Books, Hong Kong, 1984, no. 92, pp. 144-5