Five fascinating chairs throughout history
It’s true – nothing lasts forever. Some things certainly last longer than others though. With unique style and careful craftsmanship these chairs have withstood the test of time.
1) The nature of the beast. The ancient Egyptians believed furniture should match natural forms to avoid bringing chaos into the universe. It’s why the legs of a chair from this period would often mimic those of a lion or bull. During the 4th dynasty of Egypt, a golden age of the ‘old kingdom’ between 2613 and 2494 BC, Queen Hetepheres I sat on this very chair.
2) A story with every sitting. If you’re in Italy and visit the Archiepiscopal Museum in Ravenna you’ll encounter the carved ivory and wood construction of the impressive Throne of Maximian. Made in approximately 550 AD, it was apparently carved in Constantinople before being shipped to Ravenna. The throne is famous for its carefully detailed panels telling the stories of biblical figures. With the size and styles within the chair this carving may have been undertaken by several different Byzantine artists.
3) A new way of sitting takes root. Before the Tang Dynasty of 618 to 907 AD Chinese culture, like its Central Asian neighbours, was one where people predominantly used sitting mats. After chairs became truly popular in the 12th century China stepped up to sitting high and now, unlike Korea and Japan, it is not common to sit at floor level. Shown here is an armchair fashioned from tree roots, dating from the Qing Dynasty of the 18th century.
4) For the shy and retiring types. In Vatican City there’s a chair that represents the charitable faith of St. Peter. While starting as a small, simple chair over the years various changes have both repaired and improved it’s style and shape. The current incarnation is from the Italian artist and architect Bernini, who lived between 1598 and 1680. Possibly it will provide inspiration when you’re after something modest for the spare room of the bach?
5) The dark side. While providing more ‘function’ than ‘fashion’ the austere Imperial Throne still made an aesthetic impact. Emperor Palpatine used this chair during a stint at his holiday home orbiting a forest planet. Unfortunately rebels destroyed it soon after installation and the only evidence of its existence is now in a film depiction of this tumultuous historical period. Although it may not look it at first glance the chair actually predates every other piece in this article. Indeed it comes from a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…