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Tree Root Stool with Characters Reading "Floating Clouds"

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Period: Zhengde reign (1506-1521), Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: elm
Dimensions: height: 86.5 cm, width: 257 cm, depth: 320 cm

The couch is made of a natural elm tree root. On a raised surface of one of the extensions, characters carved in seal script (zhuan shu) read "floating clouds" (liuyun), indicating the shape of the root. Filled with green pigment and reading right to left, the engraved inscription is followed by the inscriber's name Zhao Huanguang (1559-1625) and a seal carved with his style name "Ordinary man"(Fanfu). 
  According to Wang Hengyong's inscription of 1939, the couch was originally owned by the Ming dramatist Kang Duishan (1475-1540) in his thatched house in southeast China's Yangzhou city. Jiang Heting, a salt dealer in the nearby Hangzhou, bought this estate in the early Qianlong reign (1736-1795) including this couch at a high cost. In 1840, the Qing scholar official and connoisseur Ruan Yuan (1764-1849) discovered it and took it home to repair. He then gave it to his good friend Lin Qing (1791-1846), Director-general of the Grand Canal who styled himself after his residence as the Owner of the Half-acre Garden (Banmuyuan zhuren) and attached the seat with six Nanmu wood stands. In 1958, Lin's descendant Wang Hengyong donated it to the Palace Museum.   
  The couch can hold several people together or one man lying down. It is also inscribed by the Ming dynasty influential connoisseur and painting master Dong Qichang (1555-1636), his contemporary the painter and calligrapher Chen Jiru (1558-1639), the Qing scholar Ruan Yuan (1764-1849), and the owner Lin Qing and his descendant Wang Hengyong.

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