Lot 135. A huanghuali plank-top kang table, Late Ming dynasty; 29.3 by 122.4 by 28.6 cm., 11 1/2 by 48 1/4 by 11 1/4 in. Estimate 1,200,000 — 2,000,000 HKD. Lot Sold 2,360,000 HKD (271,296 EUR). Courtesy Sotheby's.
of substantial material, the top made of a solid single plank, supported on splayed square-sectioned legs double-tennoned to the plank top and curving gently outward at the feet, the legs gently rounded on the outside and cut to house the beaded-edged, shaped apron made of a thick plank, the end aprons joined to the long ones with exposed dovetailed joints, the legs inset on the shorter sides with a panel carved in low relief with a lingzhi bloom within a lobed cartouche, above a humpback-square-sectioned stretcher with a shaped apron.
Exhibited: Grace Wu Bruce, Dreams of Chu Tan Chamber and the Romance with Huanghuali Wood: The Dr. S.Y. Yip Collection of Classic Chinese Furniture, Art Museum, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1991, cat. no. 32, pp. 90-91.
The Chinese Collections, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 1997-99.
Note: "My favourite kang table with a single plank board and splayed legs. I often sat besides it with folded knees to read my old painting scrolls."
The kang table is a classic type of Ming table, suitable for use at mat level or on the kang, a hollow brick platform where hot air is driven through to create a warm living space.
Classic kang tables are usually of rectangular zhuo form with legs at the corners; recessed legs examples are very rare. Rectangular kang tables are placed in the centre for reading and writing, drinking tea and eating on. Those long shapes like the present example are placed at the ends against the wall on either ends for the placement of objects, and there are few surviving examples.
The plank-top table is standard type in full-height furniture, but is rarely seen in kang tables. The slightly everted feet of the legs and the beautifully decorated inset carved lingzhi panels provide relief to what otherwise might be a heavy piece of furniture, and contribute to a striking effect.
A similarly shaped kang table with everted ends and of a larger size is illustrated in Grace Wu Bruce, A Choice Collection of Chinese Ming Furniture, Grace Wu Bruce, Hong Kong, 2011, pp. 30-33.
Sotheby's. Ming Furniture – The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 07 October 2015