Drum Form Side Table or Stool

And the winner is...

   Stone Stool; China; I.D. # F1610-002
  Stone Drum Form Side Table or Stool; China; Fangshan Marble; 14 DIA x 18.5 H Inches I.D. #F1610-002; 1 of 2; $3,895 each

In the year 1412, Chinese master architect Lu Xiang addressed a group of skilled stone sculptors working on the Forbidden City in the northern capital of Beijing. The sculptors stood at attention in a single straight line. “Now that the principal construction of the courtyards is nearing completion, it is time to begin work on the furniture for those spaces,” he began. “The emperor has asked me to arrange for a competition to design the stools for the Palace of Heavenly Purity.” Each of the sculptors knew this was the emperor’s personal residence. No greater recognition could befall them than to have their design selected. “The winner shall teach at the Imperial Academy.” A hush gripped the group; teaching at the academy was the highest honor a sculptor could achieve. In the following weeks many designs were submitted; yet only one was selected. It was traditional, composed of unique material, multi-purpose, perfectly proportioned, exquisitely sculpted, and distinguished - just like this week’s New Arrival.

Stone Stool; China; I.D. # F1610-002  

Actual piece in Primitive's Five Elements library used as side table; See related blog to learn more about symbolism in Chinese art and antiques


This week’s New Arrival features a stone stool or side table from China. Sculpted of marble quarried from Fangshan Mountain near Beijing, it is composed of the same material as much of the Forbidden City. Yet, its size and design are memorable too. Meant to emulate in shape and proportion the barrel form of a Chinese drum, this particular style has been part of the Chinese furniture repertoire for over a thousand years. Ideal for use as a stool or side table, at the top and bottom are rows of “buttons” symbolizing the iron nail heads normally used to hold down the tympanums of an actual drum. Around the circumference is an ancient fretwork motif called clouds and thunder, which symbolizes rain and abundance. Integrated into the pattern are two stylized Peng Niao, mythological birds of immense proportion symbolizing quick ascent and rapid advancement. You can actually hear what this piece symbolizes. It maintains a steady beat on the march to health, wealth and abundance in all forms.