Subject:Re: Need help identify the wood on the display case.
Posted By: kirk Thu, Aug 01, 2013
This is an exceptional piece.
Chinese manner, but in fact more likely Japanese. The timber used among the most sought after of the Asian tropical hardwoods, in the context that is, of antiquity. Known as 'Coromandel' in the West, was among the highest value raw materials imported to Europe from the appropriately named 'Coromandel Coast' between the 17th & e19thC's, & from a European perspective usually reserved (sparingly / veneers) for objects of some cultural significance. In China this timber is sometimes referred to as 'huanghuali', or even as you have said 'stripy ebony'. The term huanghuali however in this case should not really be used given the work, albeit in Chinese manner, is not Chinese. It is a Japanese interpretation of the Chinese style, & apart from it's unmistakably Japanese form, the timber itself is also far more commonly used in the manufacture of Japanese than in Chinese furniture. Nomenculturally speaking, the term 'stripy ebony' - as juvenile as it may sound - could be considered more correct than use of the term 'huanghuali', but truly it could be said that application of the nomenclature assumes more academic sophistication than can generally be attributed to those who may in reality apply it. The timber itself comes from various species of the persimmon tree. Diospyros genera. Huanghuali conversely is in all cases - whether Pterocarpus; Dalbergia; Ormoisa; or 'nomen conservorandum' genera, (& albeit is produced by various species of all of these genera) is Leguminosae family. ie: produces a legume, or bean - not a Persimmon fruit.
Persimmon in both Chinese & Japanese culture is associated symbolically with strength & endurance. The timber extremely hard; resistent to decay; and furthermore extremely beautiful. The tree (some would say fortunately for this genera) produces a valuable crop, & is thus afforded the type of grass roots level protection by members of the indigenous population that Leguminosae family remains lacking. ie: It is not an endangered genera owing in most part to the fact it is not typically felled. Thus, despite various species of the genera being abundant from Veitnam to the northern reaches of the 'Coromandel Coast', in terms of antiquity it is in fact a rare & valuable raw material.