Chinese Furniture Materials:
Zitan 紫檀

Zitan is an extremely dense wood which sinks in water. It is a member of the rosewood family and is botanically classified in the Pterocarpus genus. The wood is blackish-purple to blackish-red in color, and its fibers are laden with deep red pigments which have been used for dye since ancient times. The fine texture of the wood grain is especially suitable for intricate carving.

Early records indicate that zitan was sourced in tropical forests of Indochina and from Hainan Island. The tree grows quite slowly. Few pieces are known to be greater than one foot in width. While the tree is relatively rare, it is not extinct. New resources have been repeatedly found throughout the centuries, and those from India and China and Southeast Asia have been supplying the modern-day makers of reproduction zitan furniture.