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Carved Bed Covered with Gold Foil in Cinnabar Lacquer by Taoyuan Craftsman

Republic of China (1912—1949)

Height: 300cm; Width: 255cm; Depth: 250cm

Collected in 1971

This bed was carved by three carpenters in a year and a half at the beginning of the Republic of China. Due to its complicated workmanship, this kind of bed has seldom been handed down generation by generation. It is a valuable object for the study of the folk customs of daily life in Hunan Province. 

With its unique modeling, the whole bed seems to lie in a wooden terrace in a small room, where the mosquito net can be put up and some pieces of small furniture can be placed. 

The bed, consisting of posts and a carved board, bed frame, lattice railings, footstool, windows and balustrades, is coated with cinnabar lacquer in its entirety and inlaid with gold foil. Three-dimensional carving, low-relief carving, engraving and intaglio carving have been used extensively in making this bed. 

At the front of the bed stands a door panel carved with stories and figures. Along with the carved designs, both sides of the bed panel settle into shape naturally, like a stage curtain. In addition, installed in the front of the canopy are suspended eaves in the form of a curved screen, carved with designs alluding to traditional Chinese operas, auspicious poultry and beasts, and towers and pavilions.

The Canopy is equipped with a cover. The lintel board is engraved with cloud and floral designs in its middle. The railings on both sides of the bed feature window lattices inlaid with designs of clouds and animals, like those in garden corridor walkways. Both sides and the read of the bed are fitted with inner balustrades. Horizontal and vertical braces are assembled together to form a frame in two layers. The upper layer, carved with designs of clouds and animals to form decorative struts, is held up by supporting spandrels with cloud designs on both sides; the lower layer has with a carved frame. The wooden supports are secured by mortise and tenon joints.

Despite its colossal size, this bed shows exquisite and delicate workmanship; hence, it is a precious artistic masterpiece. 


About Taoyuan Craftsman

Taoyuan County, situated in the northwest of Hunan Province, is the location of Taohuayuan “The Land of Peach Blossoms” made famous by Mr. Taoyuanming, the great poet in China’s Eastern Jin Dynasty. 

Taoyuan County is the place where “Taoyuan Craftsman” originated since Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368-1911AD). As the general name for various manufactured products including wood carving and engraving, stone/jade carving and engraving, textiles and embroidery, etc., Taoyuan Craftsman is well-known all around the country for its unique style, exquisite and complicated techniques and long history. 

There are some common traits that most Chinese folk decorative artifacts share: first, they signify good luck and fortune; second, they feature balance in their artistic designs, to show harmony. Decorations on Taoyuan wooden products are not exceptions to this rule.