Meditation Chair

The meditation chair (chanyi) has a spacious seat that the legs can be drawn up upon. Aside from this general characteristic, it was produced in many styles. Images of luohans and chan masters from the Song dynasty illustrate such broad-seated chairs made of wood, bamboo, or tree branches.

In Zunsheng bajian (Eight Discourses on the Art of Living) (pub. 1591), the meditation chair is described as “half as big again as an ordinary chair,” and “suitable only when the top rail is sculpted with an enlarged headrest.

The late Ming carpenter’s manual, Lu Ban jing also provides measured details for a meditation chair as well an image of a large chair constructed from naturalistic branch-like timbers. As root style furniture became more fashionable during the Qing dynasty, the meditation chair gradually disappeared.