Length: 8 3/4 inches, 22 cm
Width: 6 inches, 15 cm
Height: 3 inches, 7.7 cm

Miniature huanghuali rectangular stand with marble top

China, Qing dynasty, 18th – 19th century

A rectangular huanghuali stand, supported on curved legs at the four corners. The stand has a marble panel inset in the top of the mitred mortise-and tenon joined framework. The marble top has streaks of grey markings in a mottled grey-white ground, resembling a traditional Chinese ink painting with windswept peaks rising from mist. The legs are joined by square-section stretchers and are supported on four small curved feet.  The underside has two characters in black ink, written in Chinese script.

This miniature stand, resembling a low rectangular kang table, has a marble top with a landscape-like pattern that immediately grips the eyes of the viewer. A Song dynasty painting by Liu Song-nien (1174 – 1224), Five Scholars of Tang, depicts a high-waisted painting table with an inlaid stone top. It is likely that this small stand was used for burning incense and for supporting the ‘Three Friends of Incense’ – the incense tool vase, incense burner and incense powder box. Its marble top, known as a Dali marble in China, would have been resistant to accidental damage from burning incense sticks. Small and portable, it could be used to display incense paraphernalia in the scholar’s studio or taken outdoors for use.1

  1. The painting is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, online collection archive, no. ..842