Folding Traveler's Hat Rack

c. 1850
$380 USD
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W: 38.0" D: 9.5" H: 12.5"
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This folding hat rack displays the opulence of court fashion, where rank and status was expressed through fashion and its accouterments. During the Qing dynasty, wearing a hat was customary for any respectable man. When not in use, their hats were stored in fine hat boxes or displayed on hat racks that helped preserve their shapes.

This curious hat rack is made of two ironwood panels carved in low relief with a scene of courtly men and women in a luxurious interior setting. The panel on the left depicts two scholars conversing in a courtyard as an armed soldier stands guard and two women peer from a window overhead. The right panel depicts an imperial figure taking court beneath a grand pavilion, surrounded by courtly scholars and concubines. Beneath each scene is a panel carved with ribbon-clad auspicious objects, including a halberd and a ruyi scepter.

When in use, two large hat stands pivot outwards from the main panels, decorated with geometric fretwork and topped with removable wooden inserts that form a domed hat rest. Four additional cloud-form coat hooks pivot outwards from the lower panels. Meant for use during travel, the entire wooden structure can fold in on itself to form into a compact box. A keepsake from a bygone era, this unusual hat rack adds a bit of whimsy to any room.

Minor losses to carved decoration. Minor repairs to joinery.

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