Chinese trunks and chests are a combination of storage space solution, great aesthetics and wonderful functionality. Apart from storage, their beautiful design enables you to decorate your room to the theme or the setting you like. They can also be used as coffee tables, side tables and even study tables. The top surface of these chests can be used as displaying shelves.
Although, most chests are multipurpose, yet it is possible to find some chests designed for specific purposes, like chests for blankets and bedding storage, chests for storage of books, chests with drawers, tall design chests, low lying chests and single compartment low/tall chests.
Ancient Chinese used chests to store almost everything, from stuff of daily needs such as food and grains, to their valuables and beddings. Many chests were placed or stacked on top of each other, with the lowest chest containing things that are needed once in a while and moving upwards, we would store things we need with an increasing frequency. This arrangement was done in order to make sure that much time is not wasted in “hunting” for stuff.
Most of the chests of the Ming period were ornate, especially at the handles and the hinges and locks. Most of theses additional “accessories” were made out of precious stones or alloys like brass and copper. As with most Chinese furniture, the chests are made out of camphor or elm woods because of their natural immunity towards pathogens and insects that spoil woodwork and/or storage material. Today, one can find chests in different types of tropical woods, imported to china from other south East Asian countries and painted in black or red with landscape depictions in light background, highlighting the effect of the base material of the chest – the wood.
Some new Chinese products are also sporting construction of chests from steel, because of the low cost and high durability, but overall, the true Chinese chest is simple in design, a bit decorative at hinges and door handles and made of wood.
The concept of rolling our storage spaces, or drawers as we know today, is also said to have been developed by the Chinese and therefore, you are bound to find the use of drawers in plenty when it comes to storage furniture like chests and trunks. Initially, drawers were used and developed for the “wandering scholars”, who needed to store general purpose items at one place, ranging from books, research material and clothes to food and essential commodities. Other uses of drawers later came into existence, from herb vendors to old age druggists and at many shops and businesses too, making drawers gain popularity throughout the world.
Chests provide an ultimate storage space, with an uncanny knack of improving the design of the room and an associated aspect of convenience, making chests one of the most desired Chinese furniture items in the world today.