Eisteddfod Chair

Contributed by St Fagans National History Mus

The 1933 National Eisteddfod Chair, made in Shanghai  © National Museum of Wales

It took Chinese craftsmen in Shanghai 16 months to make this Welsh eisteddfod chairThis ornate chair covered with carvings of Chinese symbols and mythical creatures was, believe it or not, commissioned for a bardic ceremony at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. The chairing of the bard is one of the highlights of this quintessentially Welsh cultural event. However this particular chair, awarded to the bard Trefin at the Wrexham Eisteddfod in 1933, also tells a story of a meeting of eastern and western cultures.
The chair was commissioned by the Shanghai Welsh Society at the instigation of J.R. Jones, a Welshman who was a leading figure in the Shanghai branches of the Royal Asiatic Society and Cymdeithas Dewi Sant.
The chair was carved at the T'ou-se-we Catholic orphanage. Founded in 1852, the orphanage had workshops teaching the skills of woodcarving, painting, printing, stained glass and other arts. It became the cradle of modern arts and crafts in China, bringing together Western and Chinese influences.

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