In the Chi­nese Cos­mo­log­i­cal Se­quence of five el­e­ments, wood Comes only af­ter gold, tak­ing Sec­ond place and well ahead of earth, which Sits last

Philippine Tatler Homes - - STYLE -

aus­pi­cious Chi­nese fu dogs in their de­signs. When the Span­ish came, and Filipino na­tives took to us­ing—and mak­ing—fur­ni­ture for their colonisers, fu dogs were stylised as claws and balls and lion’s face. An­tique deal­ers who didn’t know bet­ter would re­fer to these mod­i­fi­ca­tions as “dinemonyo,” so named be­cause of the evil face and claw on its legs.

Ex­cep­tional crafts­man­ship aside, there may be more rea­son for col­lect­ing rare and hard wood pieces.

The func­tional: Fine hard wood, es­pe­cially those with fra­grance, may de­ter the most de­ter­mined of bee­tles, wasps, ants, and ter­mites, which make them last through the ages.

The sym­bolic: They may have been cho­sen by those who wanted to present a sense of author­ity and the grandiose, pre­ferred by those who lived through ages of tur­bu­lence, and sur­vived.

For wood work, not only fine work­man­ship or age, but the sym­bolic mean­ing of much of the mo­tifs add spe­cial mean­ing to the be­holder’s eyes. Such was the case when a carved dragon sym­bol­ised im­pe­rial power, a tiger—the brav­ery of a gen­eral; books and vol­umes—the stature of a scholar; stylised clouds—peace and tran­quil­ity; the peony—love and af­fec­tion; a crane— longevity; and the phoenix—beauty of the fair sex; and, a bat for pros­per­ity.

And again, there is the blend of prac­ti­cal­ity and lux­ury: prices of orig­i­nal pieces have steadily in­creased, mak­ing these ex­quis­ite creations a wise in­vest­ment for the wealthy and dis­crim­i­nat­ing.

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