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antique vietnamese family altar

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Posted 4 years ago


(385 items)

This is a family heirloom from my grand parents who lived in Indochina from 1910 to 1956.
this cabinet-altar is very finely engraved and open carved both faces, 1.3 meters high, 1.5 meters wide. Medallions are bone, not ivory with dragons, characters and trigrams I can't read.
Top has a nearly iridescent feel with nice veining.
There was a pair, but the other was destroyed during the moving trip to settle in France :-(
Any help to decipher writing welcome!!!

Mystery Solved


  1. shrine shrine, 4 years ago
    kyratango -- what a coincidence, my friend just showed me this yesterday. His shelf is just a modern reproduction of yours, in other words, yours could be the original design. Very interesting story to tell my friend.

    However, I don't think your piece is an TRUE antique but a tributary antique. The mark you mentioned is a reign mark boasting being made around 1800. It's not possible to me according to the wear and patina on the furniture. My preliminary estimation sits in early 20c which matches your story.

    The quality of image is not enough identify the specific timber used, but roughly speaking, I think it's a vietnamese variation of chinese Qing furniture design made from local rosewood. It's a safe guess to me as most Chinese furniture maker sources their rosewood from Vietnam in 20c, till now.

  2. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 4 years ago
    It's stunning Kyra... And I love the story... How cool that you family lived in Asia during that period.
  3. kyratango kyratango, 4 years ago
    Thanks shrine and Drfluffy for your comments!
    I'll post old pics from 1930 of my grand parents interior.
    Of course, all of their deco was recent at the time!
  4. Manikin Manikin, 4 years ago
    Very beautiful !
  5. kyratango kyratango, 4 years ago
    Thanks Manikin!
  6. toracat toracat, 4 years ago
  7. kyratango kyratango, 4 years ago
    Thanks Don!
  8. Trey Trey, 4 years ago
    The detail in this is amazing.
  9. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Thanks Trey :-)
  10. shareurpassion shareurpassion, 3 years ago
    Stunning work of art!
  11. BHock45 BHock45, 3 years ago
  12. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Thank you shareurpassion and BHock45 for your kind comments :-)
  13. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Thanks Idcloisonne, I knew the yin/yang symbol, but not the signification of the trigramme around it (used in feng-shui, for auspicious too)
    There are several on the altar and none match what I found.
  14. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Thank you Kivatinitz :-)
  15. kyratango kyratango, 2 years ago
    Late thanks to the 31 lovers!
  16. kyratango kyratango, 2 years ago
    Thank you Roycroft and Ozmarty!
  17. lee120275 lee120275, 1 year ago
    What can you say about this it is sexy, magnificent I could see it in a top auction house and for a lot of money.
  18. Celiene Celiene, 1 year ago
    DOes it open or have drawers - or just sit there looking beautiful?
  19. kyratango kyratango, 1 year ago
    Ooh! Thank you Lee120275 for your warm comment! Sentimental and family memories have very high value for me :-)

    Celiene, yes, it has 2 narrow doors to the front and 2 drawers.
    Thank you for your interest!
  20. kyratango kyratango, 7 months ago
    New better pics, and view of the wood graining, huang hua li???

    Many thanks for your loves, Thomas and Bratjdd :-))
  21. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 months ago
    As a thought I wonder if you have a Vietnamese cafe or market in your town where you could show the photo's and ask? The gentleman that mows my lawn is Vietnamese as are other locals and the all are very willing to share what they know about their country.
  22. kyratango kyratango, 7 months ago
    Fhrjr2, thanks for your interest and suggestion!
    I showed my pics to vietnamese around me, but all they could say was it is an old altar...
    No help for the wood or writing, they are too young :-)
  23. JImam JImam, 7 months ago
    This is just beautiful!
  24. kyratango kyratango, 7 months ago
    Ooh, thank you JImam for your kind comment and love! :-)

    Thank you Aura, Swampdogg, Master and Lamplover for taking the time to visit and love!
  25. Zilla Zilla, 7 months ago
    I had fun using this as some Chinese translation homework.... I found out the meaning I think. It says, reading from the top down and right to left:
    Jiaqing chao bao

    Chao =dynasty
    Bao = precious treasure
    When put together chaobao could mean the money the king used

    So i think it means Qing dynasty treasure

    Maybe a fluent Chinese speaker can come along and correct me if I'm wrong :-)

    What beautiful piece of furniture and so precious for your family history also!
  26. kyratango kyratango, 7 months ago
    Aaahh! Thank you Zilla for your great help!

    That makes sense, I know my grand parents decorated their home with lots of chinese pieces, but nothing older than 19th century (except a Khmer head from Angkor!).
  27. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 7 months ago
    There are Chinese readers on the Chinese FB page, if you would like to try and post there, Pascale. :)
  28. kyratango kyratango, 7 months ago
    Thank you Katherine :-)
    I'm not a Facebook person... I'll rather keep my pics under hand for asking in Paris Chinatown when I'll go!
  29. PhilDMorris PhilDMorris, 3 months ago
    This piece is amazing. I think they especially go well in a large or long foyer !~
  30. kyratango kyratango, 3 months ago
    Thank you Phil, you can see here pics of their original display in 1930:
    There was a pair in my grand parents home, they were in the middle of vast rooms, all decorated faces visible!

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