Chinese Classical Zitan Furniture Collection

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The origin of "Dream of the Red Chamber" Sofa Set

This eight-piece elaborately carved sofa set came to my father by coincidence. Having been a frequent dinner guest at the People's Congress of China, my father learned that there was a sofa set being commissioned by the People's Congress to be used in the guest hall, mainly used for receiving foreign government officials. It was said that the sofa set took 5 years to complete, and each piece was carved with different scenes from the classical Chinese novel, "Dream of the Red Chamber".

Using solid aged mahogany imported from Southeast Asia, all logs used for this 8-piece set were hand picked and were aged for at least twenty years prior to being selected. After the completion of all the detailed carving, it sat in the warehouse for another five years before it was to be made ready, as the aging process would need to take place and any cracks due to climate would get fixed before they were to be sent to the People's Congress. But at this dinner party, my father learned that the People's Congress was planning to obtain another set of furniture for the room to give it more of a contemporary look instead.

After learning about this opportunity, my father went to the warehouse where the pieces were stored and had a look at them. He was impressed with the quality of the craftsmanship and the detailed carving, in addition to the beautiful aged mahogany the set is made in, so he purchased it instead. Ironically the People's Congress later attempted to repossess it but by then my father had already purchased it and shipped it to his warehouse.

The set was completed in 1991, taking total of 10 years to complete. During the process, three partially completed pieces had to be thrown away because there were some minor errors made to the scene from the novel of "Dream of the red chamber" that each chair had been carved with. My father has had the set since 1995. All five chairs have different carvings and scenes from the "Dream of the Red Chamber".

The actual color of the sofa set is darker than the pictures showed.

Main sofa: 2 meters long by 0.63 meters wide by 167 centimeters tall
Main coffee table: 1.62 meters long by 0.63 meters wide by 0.60 meters tall
Small sofa: 0.90 meters long by 0.60 meters wide by 1.33 meters tall (4 pieces total) Tea table: 0.90 meters long by 0.53 meters wide by 0.73 meters tall.
Weight: Approximately 900 pounds total.

According to furniture experts in Beijing, there are no more than five sofa sets with carving and construction comparable to this, and only one outside China, in Taiwan. In terms of the story this sofa set portraits, there is no other pieces like this in the world.

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