Folding Screens

arched top folding screen with hand-painted flowers, butterflies, and birds
arched top folding screen
hand-painted folding screen with peacocks
folding screen with peacock
oriental folding screen hand-painted with birds and flowers on antiqued red background
red oriental folding screen
folding screens - oriental folding screen

Oriental Screens

You will truly appreciate intricate details of hand-painted oriental folding screens that is deeply rooted in ancient art. Chinoserie design of the oriental folding screens combines the influences of imperial China, with its opulent architectural style, intricate carvings, and rich colors, with the spiritual calm of ancient tradition. When these influences are adapted in the folding screens, the look is the ultimate in sophistication.

In all oriental screens natural colors are spiced up with red, black, and sensuous gold. Smooth surfaces shine with lacquer, while antiqued crackled finish adds luxury and style to the folding screens. Folding screens feature oriental scenes with antiqued gold leaf highlights, Chinoserie designs, and oriental village scenes. Several folding screens introduced on this page are painted with intricate designs on an antiqued red background.

Beautiful landscapes painted on the folding screens often feature mountains, rivers, buildings with pagoda tops, and a little figures of Chinese people performing their every day activities. To create decorative folding screen the artists drew inspiration from nature and focused mainly on the typical features of the spot they were depicting. This oriental folding screen room divider has a one continuous composition, each panel shows the portion of landscape, but from the slightly different angle.

Types of Oriental Screen Designs

All of these folding screens are made from wood and are hand-painted with traditional oriental designs. High quality and incredible artistry make these oriental screens extremely popular.

Oriental screens definitely will create a focal point in any room. If placed against the wall oriental screen create a stunning backdrop, also they can serve as room dividers, adding an architectural quality to any room. Several oriental screens feature traditional court or palace scenes. Folding screens with palace scenes always show a prominent person receiving gifts from a delegation.

folding screen - extra large oriental folding screen with hand painted Ming Dynasty scene
This impressive extra-large eight-panel oriental folding screen is hand-crafted from wood and hand-painted with Ming Dynasty court scene on an antiqued crackled black background. The composition of this oriental screen runs diagonally from the bottom right corner to an upper left, and has a definite background and foreground. Oriental screen has inner, central and outer border... read more about this extra large oriental folding screen with hand painted Ming Dynasty scene >>

Oriental screens have limited space, for that reason the scenes were constructed as a closed system with a clear foreground and background. Hand-painted scenes on the oriental screens are based on various legends and depending upon the story involved they show mainly men, women or children. However, all oriental folding screens with palace or court scene nearly always have a similar structure; attention is focused on the center where figures are coming in from left to right in order to pay homage to the person being honored. This is done by kneeling or dancing, by offering a gift or by burning incense in honor of the central figure.

All oriental designs with palace scenes can be subdivided into a right hand portion of the screen showing a delegation approaching, a middle portion of the screen, were the host or hostess awaits and a left hand portion of the screen where female figures are usually seen.

Oriental Screen Borders

Oriental screens hand-painted with Chinese designs have beautiful ornamental borders. Folding screen border patterns should be divided into inner, middle and outer borders. The most detailed borders are usually found on the front of the folding screens. The compositions painted on the folding screens' borders cover themes that were very common in every-day Chinese life and symbolized wealth, longevity and good luck. These themes are frequently found in all oriental decorative arts.

oriental folding screens border

Decorative patterns on the oriental folding screens are usually combined with floral or other motifs. Sometimes a double border pattern is used on oriental screens. This involves two thin borders being placed alongside each other. Most of the oriental folding screens have all three types of borders but there are some where one of the decorations is missing or with only one border. Japanese style folding screens usually do not have borders and the design flowing from one screen's panel to the next.

oriental folding screens - oriental folding screen hand-painted with birds and flowers on antiqued red background
This full of character four-panel oriental screen is crafted from wood and has a stunning design hand-painted by an artist on an antiqued crackled red background. The back of this folding screen s hand finished in antiqued crackled red. Composition of this oriental screen has a unique structure. Embraced by dynamic decorative border with flower motif two thirds of the oriental screen is dedicated to one large composition that continues from one panel to the next... read more about this hand-painted oriental folding screen >>

Oriental Symbolism

Rich ornamental finely detailed outer border surrounding the main composition. Traditional Chinese court scene is depicted in perspective and runs from the bottom of the left-hand corner of the folding screens to the upper right. Composition of these screens usually has a definite foreground and background. On the bottom part of this folding screen you can see what is called a "central border".

One of the most popular decorative motifs used on the central border of the folding screens is "hundred antiquities". "Antiquities" was the name giving to Chinese prehistoric objects made of jade or bronze while "a thousand" or "a hundred" meant a large number. Generally items painted on the central border of the folding oriental screen reflecting a wish on the part of the giver. The screens border usually includes some of the eight good luck tokens, the eight treasures, the four arts, the four treasures. The eight good luck tokens were originally a Buddhist symbols, and are the wheel of the low, the conch shell, a parasol, a canopy offering protection to all living creatures, a lotus, a vase or jar with a cover, two wish and the endless knot.

Coromandel screen with Ming dynasty palace scenes
Coromandel screen with Ming dynasty palace scenes

The eight treasures may originally have symbolized precious gifts but in the Ming and Qing periods they represented a wish for prosperity. They are painted on the decorative screen in a very simple stylized form. The four treasures were the four "priceless jewels" in a Chinese scholar's study: paper, ink, paintbrush, ink and ink stone. The reproduction of those items on the panel of the decorative folding screen may have symbolized the wish for a successful career. A book with rolls of silk together with a vase or planter containing flowers represent good wishes in academic achievements. 100 antiquities are the most common subjects for the center border of the oriental decorative folding screens. China has a lot of picturesque places that were frequently glorified both in literature and in the arts

coromandel screen with peacocks
Coromandel Screen with peacocks


history of folding screens - China


Japanese folding screens


Folding screens in Europe


Coromandel screens - the art of Coromandel