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Lot 187. huanghuali folding stool, jiaowu, Late Ming dynasty (1368-1644)54.8 by 36.8 by h. 49.9 cmLot sold: 1,512,000 HKD (Estimate: 300,000 - 500,000 HKD). © Sotheby's 2022

constructed with beaded curvilinear-shaped seat rails drilled for a woven seat, the seat rail carved with confronting chilong and tendrils, the legs mortised, tenoned and lapped to the seat rails and base stretchers, hinged by metal rods at the pivoting point, secured on both sides with chrysanthemum-shaped metal backplates that set against ruyi-shaped strapwork, the rectangular footrest with a cusped apron and two feet mortised and tenoned to the front pair of legs and base stretcher, surface-mounted with an interlocked lozenge design and corner mounts, further reinforced with inlaid strapwork at the seat rail and the foot joins.

ProvenanceR.H. Ellsworth Ltd, New York, 18th March 2003.

Note: As conveniently lightweight and comfortable seats, folding stools such as the current example were popular in the Ming dynasty among travelling scholars and military officials. This design derives from prototypes known since the Han dynasty, when folding stools were imported by nomadic tribes from Central Asia and popularised by Emperor Lingdi (AD 168-189), who was fascinated by the foreign portable seat. The folding stool appears to be the first elevated type of seat in China, predating the emergence of the rigid frame chair (see Gustav Ecke, 'The Development of the Folding Chair. Notes on the History of the Form of the Eurasian Chair', Journal of the Classical Chinese Furniture Society, vol. 1, no. 1 (Winter, 1990), pp. 11-21). The woodblock print illustration to Lienü Zhuan [Biography of women in ancient China] by Ming dynasty painter Qiu Ying shows an attendant carrying a folding stool behind his master on horseback, suggesting their usage as travelling seats as well as stools for alighting from horses (Wanli period version, vol. 16, p. 147).

Compare a similar stool illustrated in Wang Shixiang, Classic Chinese Furniture, London, 1986, pl. 31; one also carved with chilong on the upper members, illustrated in Karen Mazurkewich, Chinese Furniture. A Guide to Collecting Antiques, Rutland, 2006, pl. 154; another from the collection of Robert H. Ellsworth, sold at Christie's New York, 17th March 2015, lot 40; a stool carved with a floral scroll in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, illustrated in Robert D. Jacobsen, Classical Chinese Furniture, Minneapolis, 1999, pl. 1. For examples sold at auction, see one first sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 31st October 1994, lot 413, and again in these rooms, 11th July 2020, lot 140; and another sold in these rooms, 9th October 2020, lot 60.

Sotheby's. HOTUNG  The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung: Part 1, Hong Kong, 9 October 2022