Length: 19 3/4 inches, 50.2 cm
Width: 11 inches, 28 cm
Height: 4 inches, 10.2 cm

Huamu scroll-form table, juan shu shi xiaoji

China, 18-19th century

A burl wood scroll table, both ends curled underneath the plain, flat top to form legs. The lively material is of figured huamu wood that is mottled brown in colour and displays the knots typical of burl.

Huamu is the Chinese term for burl wood. It is unusual to see burl wood used in a Chinese object. A burl is a tree growth in which the grain has grown in a deformed  manner.  It is commonly found in the form of a rounded outgrowth on a tree trunk or branch that is filled with small knots from dormant buds. Burls yield a very peculiar and highly figured wood, prized for its beauty and rarity.  Several objects in huamu were included in an exhibition at the Altfield Gallery in Hong Kong in 1984[1], which featured also a scroll stand in zitan.[2] A very similar burl wood scroll stand from the collection of the Reverend Richard Fabian was sold by Sotheby’s New York in 2016.[3] In the notes to the catalogue it is stated: The dramatic openwork scrolling required great skill from the carver and the ability to choose perfectly seasoned timber that would not be prone to either warping or cracking. This would be particularly true of burlwood with its naturally variegated surface and grain.

  1. Rice Jones, R and Forsyth, A.: Wood from the Scholar’s Table, Chinese Hardwood Carvings and Scholar’s Articles, Altfield Gallery, Hong Kong 1984, plates 25-27, pp. 56-9 and plates 68-73, pp. 112-9
  2. Rice Jones, R and Forsyth, A ibid, plate 77, pp. 126-7.
  3. https://www.sothebys.com/de/auctions/ecatalogue/2016/ classical-chinese-furniture-from-the-collection-of-richard.fabian-n09465/lot.60.html