Mortise and tenon, the soul of traditional furniture!

Mortise and tenon, the soul of traditional furniture!

Do you really know mortise and tenon? Not just a few pieces of wood together can be called mortise and tenon. We must know the essence of mortise and tenon? Some people say it’s very simple. Mortise and tenon is no nail and no glue. Use the combination of protruding mortise and concave mortise to complete the splicing of wood. That’s right. Have we thought deeply about why wood is spliced with wood?

For example, in recent years, it has become very popular – dovetail tenons on all sides. At first glance, this combination looks very novel, and its name sounds good, like a traditional mortise and tenon, but if you taste it, is it the Japanese mortise and tenon * Sifang ant mentioned above.

As for the mortise and tenon, first, if the mortise and tenon are made like this, it will bite vertically, and it will scratch if it is not firm horizontally. Second, and fatal, what is the significance of doing so? Make mortise and tenon of two straight materials and connect them into one straight material. Why not use one material directly? Isn’t it stronger? All Chinese furniture should do this. The columns of those big screens and big cabinets should have fallen apart long ago. There are also the following mortise and tenon joints, which are the same problem. Why not use one piece of whole material directly? This is also the question we just raised. Why is the wood of Chinese mortise and tenon connected with wood? Is it to turn short straight wood into long straight wood?

To put it bluntly, the straight material combination of mortise and tenon is actually the problem of “the intersection of lines” we learned when we were young. That is, there are only two possibilities for two lines in the same plane – intersection and parallelism.

The straight material combination of mortise and tenon can only involve the intersection problem, because if it is parallel, then there will be no mortise and tenon. Therefore, according to the intersection of “lines”, we can summarize three ways of straight tenon and mortise, namely:

Mortise and tenon, the soul of traditional furniture!

The four dovetail tenon we just cited is actually the parallel problem of straight materials, which overlaps in parallel.

Chinese carpenters are a very intelligent group. When encountering this kind of problem, it must be on the big stuff, and this connection method will only appear on the connection of curved materials, such as the seat ring of the armchair. Using this seemingly magical but actually pediatric thing to define Chinese mortise and tenon is the biggest insult to mortise and tenon.

Now we have a question: what is mortise and tenon, or what should be the mortise and tenon of our traditional furniture? The earliest mortise and tenon in China has appeared in the Neolithic age. A batch of wooden pieces with mortise and tenon structures have been unearthed on the 4th cultural layer of Hemudu site, which is 7000 years ago. The dovetail tenon, known as the “mother of tenons”, was also unearthed in Hemudu.

Mortise and tenon, the soul of traditional furniture!

For the Chinese who have a special preference for wooden buildings, the temptation of mortise and tenon is quite huge. Better mortise and tenon means better load-bearing structure, larger building scale, stronger and flexible furniture, and there is no need to worry about the corrosion of nails.

The mortise and tenon on furniture in the Ming and Qing dynasties can be said to be the pinnacle of Chinese mortise and tenon. It has a complete variety and excellent mortise and tenon making, which has lasted for a hundred years. It can be said that mortise and tenon is the inner soul of Chinese classical furniture and the skeleton spirit of classical furniture. Without an iron nail, it can be used for thousands of years by its own structure, which is still solid and beautiful.

Mortise and tenon, the soul of traditional furniture!

When we talk about classical furniture now, what we talk about more is the material, but what you don’t know is that Chinese craftsmen have adjusted different tenon making methods according to the hardness and wood properties of different wood as early as 400 years ago to comply with the changes of wood inflation and contraction. We will also talk about the shape of furniture, the aesthetics of furniture, and the charm of furniture, except that mortise and tenon is a forgotten corner, because it is hidden, it is an internal bone, invisible. If the material and shape are the face of furniture, then mortise and tenon are the interior of furniture.

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