Beds of Ming and Qing Dynasties
The bed is a room inside room and the home inside home, which occupied by one's half of the lifetime.
A bed is a world, a set of social conditions, and warmth of a family. The beds bares happiness and sorrows of life, and the most solemn scenes in life: birth, aging, illness and death, have all closely connected with them.
A bed carved with a pair of phoenix must be a boudoir bed. A bed of Dragon and Phoenix Greeting the Sun is of course a marriage bed. "Genius and Beauty" represent the couples talent and prettiness. A bed painted with red and gold of A Hundred Officials belongs to a government officer. During the Republic period the styles were improved, with tall and rounded columns. The aristocrats in the late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty used to sleep on the double-row or triple-row compartment beds carved with famous figures and allusions. The master slept on the main row while the servants and servant girls slept on the peddler side by, who must always remain cautious and be ready to serve their master immediately if he made a slight move. This service only belongs to the closest servants, and the other servants of the lower rank could but steal a nap on the stool. Hence the larger space a bed took, the more delicate it was carved, the better the wood was chosen, and then the higher the status the owner of this bed was. On the contrary, a common guy just rested on a simple four-foot bamboo bed.
Beds which have ceilings and covered all round are called in general the compartment beds. The compartment beds are divided into single-row, double-row and triple-row ones. For different regional culture characteristics, different styles and forms of the row beds appeared, of distinctive carvings, colors and paintings. For example, the beds in Jiangxi are mainly single-row painted red and gold; beds in Wenzhou are double-row Genius and Beauty placer gold compartment boxes; in Fujian, semi-enclosed, speculative carved compartment beds; in west Hunan, "Three drops of water" compartment beds, which can be further classified as single-row "Three drops of water" and triple-row "Three drops of water". There are flat carvings, speculative carvings, relief sculptures and inlays. The painting is largely red, either pure red or mixed with other colors. And placer gold or painted gold may be applied.
One may sees the owner through a bed. One sees the family through a person. And one sees the nation through a family. The history and culture of the beds are the mirrors of life of the people and tell us the story of changing society.
Collected from: Jiangxi, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Wenzhou, Shanxi, Anhui, Hunan, Fujian, Guizhou, Hebei.
Time span: Late Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China, about 450 years.