From Asia, With Love

Magical furniture from Tibet and beyond.

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As a kid growing up on the fringes of Chicago suburbia, some of my most vivid memories are of the annual pilgrimage my family and I made to visit the Field Museum of Natural History. It is one of America’s grand old museums, offering a rich and nearly endless array of curiosities large and small: glimpses into wildlife, geography and the wonders of ancient cultures.

Year after year, there was one specific exhibit which always drew me like a magnet: the enormous glass cases displaying a collection of artifacts from Tibet.  Hundreds of them. It turns out nearly all were gathered on a single expedition by a globe-trotting anthropologist around 1910. Many were already between 100 and 200 years old when they were transported to Chicago.

 Carved willow chairs, ca. 1860.

Carved willow chairs, ca. 1860.

The statues and large ceremonial objects were (and are) impressive. But as I stood there, mesmerized by the timeworn magic laid out before me, I was always most fascinated by the more utilitarian stuff: tools, clothing and personal effects that offer glimpses into day-to-day Tibetan life. Knives. Cooking utensils. Heavy skin coats, boots and mittens. And of course, there was the furniture.

Fast forwarding to Nashville in 2018, I once again find myself staring at relics from an impossibly distant time and place. For we’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with a mysterious Canadian who spends much of his time crisscrossing the Tibetan plateau, always in search of unique antiques.

 Painted pine table, ca. 1880.

Painted pine table, ca. 1880.

We’ve had a lot of really amazing days getting Royal Circus ready to launch. But one of the most exciting was the afternoon a truck rolled up bearing the first pieces we procured from this resource.  Uncrating each piece was a revelation. Elaborately carved tables, chairs and chests. Boxes and trunks. A mid-19th century workbench. Intricate designs, painted by hand with a level of patience most of us will never attain.

 Hand-painted large pine cabinet, meticulous recent reproduction.

Hand-painted large pine cabinet, meticulous recent reproduction.

All of us on the Royal Circus team unabashedly love this stuff. It’s not easy to get, and there isn’t much of it available. But without a doubt, it’s worth the effort.

Even when we know it’ll be bittersweet to watch these pieces move out the door on their way to the next chapter.

Meanwhile, we’re busy putting the finishing touches on our flagship Nashville store. We expect to throw open our doors to the public in just two or three short weeks.

Onward.

P.S. Follow our progress on Instagram.