Comfortable, elegant, and somewhat less formal than tall yoke back chairs with extended arm and top rails, the 'southern official's hat', nanguanmaoyi form was very popular during the Ming dynasty, and variations on it continued to be made throughout most of the Qing period.
The use of different woods in combination is not uncommon. The combined use of woods in the present lot provides an attractive, textural contrast between the huanghuali frame and the swirl-grained huamu (burlwood). See Wang Shixiang and C. Evarts, Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Chicago and San Francisco, 1995, pp. 68-89, no. 32 for a huanghuali southern official's hat armchair, dated to the 17th century, inlaid with nanmu burl.
The carved upper section of the splat as well as the stepped arch in the lower section also provide decorative patterns that contrast with the clean lines of the rectangular frame of the chairs' structure.
A square-membered huanghuali nanguanmaoyi of very similar form and proportions in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing, illustrated by Hu Desheng in Ming Qing Guting Jiaju Da Guan, Beijing, 2006, p. 103, no. 82. A huanghuali and nanmu burl chair of similar design formerly in the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture Collection, was sold at Christie's New York, 19 September 1996, lot 36 and was illustrated by Wang et al., Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, San Francisco and Chicago, 1995, pp. 68-9, no. 32.