At the time of the Qianlong emperor who was fond of it, the risk of shortage occasioned a specific attention brought to the supply of new lumber and to the preservation of previously made furniture and decoration.
A large cabinet 242 x 208 x 53 cm whose front side includes four tall panels entirely made in zitan was sold for € 2,53M including premium by Sotheby's on December 15, 2011. By pushing the price up to such a level, connoisseurs had recognized that the scenes of the four panels constituted a perfectly coherent set. This piece of furniture is now estimated HK $ 30M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on October 5, lot 3303.
Its dense iconography is dominated by two dragons on each panel. Age and attitude vary but all these dragons are imperial. The elder teach to the younger the sailing in the clouds and the pursuit of the sacred pearl. Some less male symbols with flowers and fish soften and complicate the scene.
This abundant theme of the Emperor protecting the imperial family is typical from the reign of Qianlong. The depth of the carving and the figures of the dragons are similar to those of his zitan throne that sold for HK $ 85,8M including premium at Sotheby's on 8 October 2009.
A pair of cabinets of exceptional size, 3,25m high, decorated with dragons and lotus, was sold for RMB 93M including premium by Poly on 4 June 2013.