A dressing table cabinet with a folding mirror-stand of this large size and sumptuous quality of carving and decoration is extremely rare, and the use of the noble material zitan makes it an exceptional piece as zitan had become a very expensive commodity by the early Qing dynasty. The top panelled mirror-stand of this ingenuous piece can be closed or angled on a ratcheted support, as discussed in Wang et al., Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 150-151. When the mirror stand is removed, the dressing cabinet becomes a small table. This is also described in the late Ming novel, Jin Ping Mei, when wine and food are brought to one of the women's rooms and served upon a small dressing stand with its mirror removed.
The elaborate style and carving of the dragons, clouds and waves is comparable to that found on a pair of Imperial zitan compound cabinets in the Yangxin dian, the Hall of Mental Cultivation in the Forbidden City, illustrated by Yang Boda’s in Tributes from Guangdong to the Qing Court, Hong Kong, 1987, p. 38, fig. 14, where the author describes them as being produced in the Guangdong workshop. Also, compare to a pair of zitan ‘dragon’ panels with similar decoration, dated 18th-19th century, sold in Christie’s New York, 20-21 March 2014, lot 2309.
It is interesting to note that the elegant style of the archaistic chilong carving on the side, back panels and drawers appears frequently on mid and late Qing dynasty furniture, and seems to be derived from an early Qing form. Compare the similar carving on the rails of a zitan luohan chuang in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Ming Qing Guting Jiaju Da Guan, vol. I, Beijing, 2006, p. 73, where it is dated to the Qing dynasty.