Lot 132. A huanghuali and puddingstone high waist incense table, Late Ming dynasty; 84 by 79 by 49.3 cm., 33 1/8 by 31 1/8 by 19 3/8 in. Estimate 1,200,000 — 2,500,000 HKD. Lot Sold 3,920,000 HKD (450,627 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.
Note: "Be it called an incense table, I find this ideal for placing penzai plants or rock sculptures. One can find pudding stone floors at some secluded chambers in the Beijing Palace Museum."
This piece has such a simple form that it relies entirely on the delicacy of its proportions for its beauty. Its restrained framework sets off perfectly the complex and colourful pattern of the puddingstone panel inset in the frame top.
Tables of this design without stretchers between the legs belong to a type classic to Ming furniture designs, as frequently depicted in contemporaneous paintings and woodblock print illustrations. However, surviving examples are rare.
This table is probably an incense table, xiangji, which was recorded in the 16th century publication Eight Discourses on the Art of Living Zunsheng Bajian by Gao Lian, used for displaying a rock sculpture, fragrant bonsai (miniature plant), flower vase or an incense burner.
For a related example that is deeper with a burlwood top, see Wang Shixiang et al., Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Chicago and San Francisco, 1995, pp. 90-91. Another example of similar design but with a huanghuali top is illustrated in Grace Wu Bruce, A Choice Collection Chinese Ming Furniture, Hong Kong, 2011, pp. 46-49.
Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015