Lot 113. huanghuali balance stand, Late Ming dynasty74.1 by 66.8 by 24.7 cm., 29 1/8  by 26 1/4  by 9 3/4  inEstimate 380,000 — 550,000 HKD. Lot Sold 1,750,000 HKD (201,173 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.

the plain rectangular base set with a drawer fitted with a baitong plate and pull, flanked by two uprights secured by openwork ear-shaped spandrels detailed with coiled dragons on top of drum elements and a stylised 'shou' character, and joined at the top with an inset panel elegantly carved in openwork with flowers and birds, the two spandrels at the corner below adorned with coiled dragons, the main joints deftly reinforced with baitong plates to withstand the stress caused by the addition of the scale and weights.

ExhibitedGrace Wu Bruce, Dreams of Chu Tan Chamber and the Romance with Huanghuali Wood: The Dr. S. Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese FurnitureArt Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1991, cat. no. 68, pp. 162-163.
Denver Art Museum, Denver, 1997-99.

LiteratureYip Shing Yiu, 'Collecting Ming Furniture of Huang Hua-Li Wood', Arts of Asia, May-June 1991, p. 121, fig. 15.

Note"A balance stand of the period. Even an everyday utility piece can be so well decorated."

Balances are small scales used to weigh silver pieces, etc. They were widely used as measures when silver was the common currency. Balance stands were the accessory furniture to hang the balance scales.

Balance stands were used in both Ming households and commercial premises. The Ming dynasty novel Erke pai'an jingqi [Amazing Tales, Second Series], illustrates a balance stand in a Ming home, and a balance stand is shown in use in a shop in the 16th century illustrated novel Jin Ping Mei [The Plum in the Golden Vase, or the Golden Lotus], vol. 1, ch. 60.

See Wang Shixiang and Curtis Evarts, Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Chicago and San Francisco, 1995, pp. 186-187 for a similar but completely plain piece in the Museum's collection. Surviving examples of balance stands made of huanghuali are very rare and this highly decorated glamorous piece is even rarer.

Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015