Chairs are perhaps the most sculptural of Chinese furniture forms. At best, they appear animated with spirit and balanced like three-dimensional calligraphy composed with brushstroke components.

In Ming and Qing dynasty China, the chair could signify status and achievement, and terms like ‘official’s hat chair’, ‘grand master’s chair’ (taishi yi), as well as base stretchers that ‘ascend with each step’ came to symbolize the age-old aspiration toward emolument.

Most traditional chair forms emerged during the Tang (618-907AD) and Song (960-1279AD) dynasties, and over centuries of gradual refinement, developed into to the mature classical patterns that are universally admired today. Differing in size, construction, materials, and decoration, the traditional chairs generally fit into the following categories.