Yokeback Armchair

The ‘official’s hat chair’ is divided into two categories: the yokeback armchair (with four protruding ends) and southern official’s armchair. Of these, the ‘yokeback’ chair or is perhaps foremost amongst the various traditional Ming-style chair forms, exhibiting dignity and poise. It is a formal chair, and frequently appears in hierarchical seating arrangements.

Fine examples of yokeback chairs are sculpted with dynamic and vigorous lines, and exhibit an upright stance with sinuously shaped posts and armrests. The backsplats are generally of S-shape. They may be made from a solid piece of wood or comprised with several panels that are sometimes pierced or carved with ruyi or other decorative motifs.

The Chinese term ‘official’s cap chair’ (guanmaoyi) has yet to be discovered in pre-20th century texts. Nonetheless, the name reflects the shape of the sculpted crestrail, which appears like a winged official’s hat; it also may suggest the common use by officials. The Chinese term ‘chair with four protruding ends’ (sichutou yizi) describes the extended crestrail and handgrips, which may be truncated with flat ends or finished like calligraphic brushstroke with rounded or lilted ends.