Sunmao is the most common structuring approach in ancient Chinese architecture and furniture. In the joint part of a component, the tenon is called sun, and the mortise is mao. With the sunmao structure, ancient Chinese architecture geniuses were able to create complex buildings and home furnishings without a nail or glue.
Stability is the most important characteristic of sunmao. A wooden tower in Yingxian County of Shuozhou, Shanxi was built in 1056. Through nearly 1,000 years, the tower has endured seven strong earthquakes and still stands proud, all thanks to the stable sunmao structure. Sunmao is the "joint" of a building in that it absorbs some of the seismic wave by deforming itself, markedly raising earthquake resistance of the entire structure.
Similarly, sunmao plays its "stabilizer" role to the maximum in furniture. The seat part of a chair is supported by its four legs as well as the cheng under its surface, a smaller supportive upper stick that transforms part of the weight to the downer legs. In this way, the seat could sit in higher weight and the entire chair can work longer. Even though every component of the sunmao structure is thin, they can take massive weight by supporting each other.
Today, sunmao is popular among architects and designers all over the world. Wooden stripes of the "puzzle table" designed by Bulgarian designer Petar Zaharinov may look messy, but joined by accurately-designed sunmao, they sure make a visual impact and went viral around the globe. Another fan of sunmao is Japanese designer Kengo Kuma. Simple sunmao is found in many of his buildings. Repeated again and again, the joint structure has developed a world of different shapes.
The smart structure of sunmao also has unique aesthetic connotations. The sun and the mao are two souls meant for each other. Once together, they make a perfect team that work as an integral whole. It's not only China's special contribution to world architecture and furniture, but also an absolutely stunning one.