Antique Miniature Gilt Cabinet with Side Carving, China (19223BAK)


H: 15.25”  W: 11.125”  D: 4.875” | CALL/EMAIL FOR SHIPPING QUOTE

This cabinet painted in auspicious red and gilt with block feet and a scalloped apron is especially charming with front door panels decorated with raised rectangular registers bordered in black and gilt and a bottom drawer with original metal pulls decorated with painted florals. The ornate side panel has two small and one large deeply carved registers:  the bottom two registers have floral images: one has a peony, and the other is a couple under a willow tree.


This small antique elmwood cabinet from Fujian, a city known for ornate furniture for a newly emerging nouveau riche merchant class towards the end of the Qing dynasty. A center for mostly red color (the color of fu) vernacular furniture and accessories from 1850-1930, their production was destined for ordinary people unconnected to the imperial court. Their mini functional-and-utilitarian cabinets  were constructed the same way as large cabinets with red lacquer frames with deeply carved decorations mortise-and-tenon joints, tongue and groove fittings and other techniques to make them secure. Boxes/small cabinets like this were given as wedding gifts as a wish for many (male) children, with commonly recognized auspicious symbols and designs painted in red and gold as the wish for fu and the Five Blessings or Happinesses. The peony is symbol of spring and a metaphor for female beauty and reproduction and also is a wish for fertility and the young couple to have many sons. The willow like the peony, represents spring, the season of youth, new beginnings, optimism and fertility, and its beauty, suppleness and frailty symbolize feminine traits. In Buddhism, it is a sign of humility, meekness and Guanyin, who uses it to sprinkle the holy waters to help sentient beings to  attain enlightenment. The piece is in excellent condition with expected signs of wear and usage and is part of the VA Accessories-and-Furniture Collection.


Terese Tse Bartholomew, Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art,  San Francisco, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 2006.

Craig Clunas, Chinese Furniture, London, Victoria and Albert Museum Publications, 1997

Andrea & Lynde McCormick, Chinese Country Antiques, Vernacular Furniture and Accessories, c. 1780-1920, Schiffer Publications, Atglen, PA, 2000.

Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Iconography, North Clarendon, Vermont, Tuttle Publishing, 2008.

Margie L. Yates, Antique Chinese Accessories, Vernacular Items, c. 1850-1930, Schiffer Publications, Atglen, PA, 2000.

Patricia Bjaaland Welch, Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Iconography, North Clarendon, Vermont, Tuttle Publishing, 2008.

Additional information


19th Century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 15.25” W:11.125” D: 4.875”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 38.73cm W: 28.26cm D: 12.38cm




Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use, no restorations/repairs

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size