Intricate Carvings on Royal Throne

 Intricate Carvings on Royal Throne

In ancient China, chairs were divided into different categories. The throne was the highest class of chair and only emperors were permitted to sit on it.

As they were only housed in royal palaces, most thrones used in China are displayed in the Beijing Palace Museum.

Fortunately, Shanghai residents can take a look at a throne (紫檀木雕云龙纹宝座) in the Shanghai Museum.

Experts believe it might have been lost in a war and subsequently found by antique collectors.

The throne was made in the middle of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by royal craftsmen and reflects intricate features typical of the time.

According to expert collector Ma Weidu, carvings on Qing Dynasty thrones were extremely delicate and sophisticated to please emperors. They were also bigger to reflect emperors' high standing.

And in accordance with the Chinese concept of a bed being the center of the house, so the style of a throne still resembles a bed in shape.

The arms and the back of this chair are screens, which is typical of a Chinese throne style -- majestic and dignified.

Chinese dragons and clouds are engraved around the full body of the throne as emperors believed they were dragons and also the sons of heaven.

In the middle of the back screen, a dragon flying down from the heavens has been engraved.

Below it are two dragons playing with a flaming pearl. This is a traditional depiction of dragons that symbolizes happiness and good luck.

Patterns of rivers, the sun and the moon to symbolize the emperor's realm, feature at the bottom of the back of the screen.

The overall theme of the carvings symbolizes the emperor coming down from heaven, overlooking his kingdom.

The arm screens and the four legs of the throne are all engraved with patterns of clouds and dragons.

The throne was made of zitan wood, a very rare and valuable tropical hardwood from the rosewood family. The dark, purplish red color of the wood enhances the royal solemnity of the seat.