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Fanciful Latticework on Doors and Windows


As legacies from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, latticework is a feast for the eyes when lingering on the lines of China's antique doors and windows, and when appreciating the excellent workmanship, wood, and styling. It is a symbol of ancient Chinese leisure and exquisite lives, as well as a symbol of their wisdom.



Latticework is a kind of openwork in which strips of wood or metal are fastened together in a cross, thereby forming square or diamond shaped spaces in between, while bas-reliefs are carvings that rise from the background. The doors and windows, elaborately carved with latticework and bas-reliefs, have become the hallmarks of classic antique Chinese architectural ornamentation as well as furniture. The diverse and elaborate designs that characterize the traditional doors and windows have exerted a far-reaching influence on Chinese architectural ornamentation. In ancient times, one's house usually told much about the taste, status and wealth of the host.



Traditional Chinese doors and windows display a wide range of latticework motifs that are a reflection of the Chinese philosophy on the harmony between man and nature. In some window latticework you may still find thin layers of gold foil, which indicates the houses' past eminence, while some carved boards feature geometric variations of Buddhist symbols. Others are carved with poems and lyrics, or even calligraphy and paintings, which implies that literary families once lived in the houses.



Latticework motifs on doors and windows are mostly derived from traditional designs with auspicious meanings, such as storks, deer, kylins, pied magpies, bats, peonies, and fu (the Chinese character for happiness), all symbolizing longevity, good health, and wealth.

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