Comfortable and easy on a Chinese stool, an emperor enjoys his garden or a villager has a haircut. This most popular of seats is found everywhere in a great variety of shapes and sizes, exquisitely carved from precious hardwood or simply created from the cross section of a tree trunk. Convenient to carry and store, it is wondrously handy for diverse purposes and occasions.
This scholarly exploration selects only those stools which reveal their history, and which demonstrate the scope of the Chinese imagination. These humble congenial forms tell us much about beauty, about clarity of purpose, and a little about the habits of their owners. Perhaps one owner sat on one corner of a stool more than the others. Another owner may have rubbed his feet constantly on the foot rail. Another stool may have been relacquered many times as it went from one household or business to the next. Each stool has led an honest life. And like good people, these stools have the compassion to give comfort to others. In their sparseness, they have vitality, class and elegance. And despite their small size, they have stature.
No matter what its style, Chinese furniture was always utilitarian and practical and yet, through careful craftsmanship, imagination and creativity, the mundane was elevated to an object of artistic merit. When we look at the range of Chinese furniture, we don't always see perfection. Sometimes we see the beauty of imperfect things and things which are simple and quiet.