Since the Tang dynasty, so-called spotted bamboo, with its naturally occurring dark spots, has been highly sought after for the beauty of the random coloring and patterning of the markings. By the Ming dynasty, this type of spotted, or speckled, bamboo was being used for furnishings of various types and not just brush handles, and this continued in the early Qing period when furniture and other furnishings made of spotted bamboo were popular at the Imperial palace. This can be seen in the series of paintings of the emperor Yongzheng’s concubines which include chairs, stools and tables that appoint their elegant apartments.
The simple lines of this elegant stand contribute to the delicate quality created by the height and slenderness of the legs as well as the negative space between the legs. This sense of airiness is enhanced by the brilliant markings of the bamboo which help to accentuate the legs while preventing them from having a static quality. The lustrous black lacquer top, which almost seems to float above the legs, is typical of the Yongzheng period and its fascination with thin, shiny, “Japanese-style” lacquer, and contrasts beautifully with the varying darker and lighter tones of the bamboo.