Horseshoe Armchair with Bat Carving
Shanxi, circa 1880
This style of chair was named for its grand looking curved rail in a horseshoe shape and would have been reserved for those high in society or important house guests and usually found in pairs. This one has been split from its twin over the years, however this does not dectract from the fact that this is one of the most beautiful horseshoe armchairs we have come across. It's original black lacquer finish is still intact on most of the distinctive curved headrail and arms, but has mostly worn on the seat and front footrest to show the lovely, natural elm wood beneath. The rear posts are set within carved spandrels and the curved backrest is decorated in carved relief in a design showing a bat - a visual pun as the character for bat in Chinese (pronounced 'fu') sounds the same as the character for good fortune or happiness. Similarly, bats are often shown upside down as the character for this (pronounced 'dao') is a synonym for the character meaning to have arrived. Saying 'the bat flies upside down' therefore sounds the same as 'good fortune is coming'!
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