An Overview of Traditional Chinese Furniture

An Overview of Traditional Chinese Furniture

What do Chinese people think of the living room and what was in the living room in ancient time?


Living Room: 客厅(kè tīng)



In Xinhua Dictionary, “客” refers to “guest”, and “厅” means “ A large room for

a gathering or reception”. Even in a strict linguistic sense, people in China see the main function of a living room as receiving guests, then family usage.


The term “客厅” first appeared in Chinese writer Ba Jin’s novel “Destruction”

in 1929. In Chapter 7: “In the living room downstairs, there are several Western paintings on the light green walls, and the floor is covered with fine carpets.” Ba Jin had the experience of studying in France. What he describes here is a

Western-style living room that was popular among senior warlords at that time.


However, current young professionals’ demand for guest receiving has decreased. From the perspective of spatial efficiency, people could pay more attention to this space, change the way they think of the living room, improve the function of “living” of the living room while also providing the guest-receiving function when needed.


An: 案(àn)


This term is somewhat ambiguous in English, carrying two distinct meanings.

1.An ancient wooden plate with short feet for food.

2.A rectangular table with different functions.

In the first case, it is akin to a serving tray with legs, while in the second it can function as a side table or desk in the Western conception. It can be of varying sizes depending on the use, but all are unified by their similar design and form. In this design project, both concepts will be reintroduced and innovated. Design content will be mentioned later.


Ji: 几( jī)


A long, narrow surface with feet under it, standing on the side of the seat for leaning on or placing objects. (Nie, “Linggongjiangyi” 75).


Ta 榻(tà)


Ta is an ancient Chinese sitting device, originally meaning a low, long, narrow, bed-shaped seat (Nie, “Linggongjiangyi” 42). But in the following thousands of years, the Ta also developed into a kind of sitting platform, with the area and height increasing, and other types of Ta design with fencing and screens appeared.

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