I JUST WANTED A DINING TABLE BUT…
It all started with me needing a dining table. I spent a long time going to furniture stores, but I couldn’t find the right table anywhere. I thought that the only way to get the perfect table would be to have it made. After a few months of searching, I found this wood factory buried deep in the outskirts of Kunming. This fellow has been building tables and wood carving for many years. He strictly uses traditional Chinese building techniques passed down a few thousand years. All wood is joined without the use dowels or fasteners of any kind. It is a painstaking process of precision wood cutting and fitting. Everything is cut and built by hand using hand tools. They don’t use any machinery during building. Everything is hand sanded and finished.
In the process of preparing my table order, I became friends with the owner, Mr. Zou. He told me that his wood comes from Burma and all his tables are made from solid wood, never several pieces joined. The tables have to be several inches thick so they do not warp or crack with age. My table is 6’9″ X 3’5″ and is 5″ thick. It is a single piece of solid walnut that weighs 550 lbs. The base is made from solid Cyprus. The two bench seats are made from Namu, a very rare exotic hardwood, which is very hard to find in Asia now. It was traditionally only used for royalty to build the emperor’s palaces and furniture. It was against the law for it to be used for any other purpose. It is a very strong and heavy wood resistant to rotting or bending. Most of the Forbidden City was built with this wood and stands in perfect condition after centuries. Needless to say, this work cannot be found in most of the world and I was lucky to own such a rare and beautiful work of art. Total cost for building and delivery $1250.00!
I became fascinated by all the beautiful things they produced. The wood carvings were some of the best pieces I have ever seen, all carved from single blocks of wood. Mr. Zou’s trademark is his ability to carve delicate long stemmed pieces like flowers that move with the breeze. The detail and design of these pieces are without a doubt museum quality. Today there are not too many artisans with the skills to produce such artworks. He has pieces that range from several inches in size, to huge pieces dozens of feet in height and width. He uses only the wood’s natural color to enhance his carvings. Nothing is painted or stained. Only clear oil is used to protect the wood’s natural grains and colors.
Please enjoy some of the pictures of this master’s work. Note the details in each piece and I think you will be as amazed as I was to see this work. In my video section, I made a video of some finished carvings.