Four-leaf wooden screen
China, 19th century
A four-leaf screen, made out of heavy wood, each of the four panels mounted with a separately carved, openwork geometric sheet, neatly dovetailed into the rectangular frame. Each panel has a decoration of geometric elements that are bent at the corners to form an intricate pattern. The frames of the panels have channelled rims.
It is difficult to determine which wood this elaborately carved screen is made of, but most probably it is hongmu a tropical hardwood also called “blackwood”. Most furniture made from hongmu is heavy and this screen is no exception; despite the panels being carved mostly in openwork, the weight of the screen is great and it cannot be moved easily without dissembling it, which is why the hinges deliberately come apart easily, leaving the much easier-to-carry individual panels.