Huanghuali is a type of tree in Asia, a slow-growing rosewood used in classical Chinese furniture. The Imperial families of the Ming and Qing dynasties used Huanghuali beds, chairs and tables, while commoners would be lucky to touch the stuff.
We spotted some unusual Huanghuali stuff (as part of an old Christie's auction) that we thought you'd like to see. Check out this early 17th-Century Huanghuali travelling bookcase, above, two- and three-tier picnic boxes, below, and this tapered cabinet that can be stacked on matching shelves, bottom.
What was a travelling bookcase even for? Did Chinese royal officials use it to haul their equivalent of The Pelican Brief down to the Summer Palace for some trashy staycation reading? We'd love more information on these objects—I'm especially curious to see how the traveling bookcase looks on the inside—but all we have are single shots and obtuse Christie's descriptions of the physical form:
Of nearly square form, fitting into a slightly larger shaped and carved base and conforming upright frame with a rounded toprail with ox-nose bail handle to enable transportation, and with a pair of foliate-form spandrels where each upright arm meets the base, with two framed rectangular doors opening to the interior fitted with single shelf and a row of two drawers at the bottom, the front rectangular lockplate with square openings to receive the metal members attached to the interior shelf
Having been auctioned off in the year 2000, the stuff is long gone. And the bookcase alone went for $47,000.