Antique bed

The traditional Chinese bed can鈥檛 be defined soley by its nocturnal function.It was an all-purpose platform that served as a recliner,banquet table,lectern and meditation platform.It also symbolized the divison of labor between the seces.For men,it was a utilitarian piece of furniture used primarily to read and sleep.For women in wealthy households,however,it was everything.it was the most important part of a woman鈥檚 dowry and remained in her possession during marriage and even after divorce.

During the ming dynasty and into Qing,patriarchy prevailed.Houses were divided into male and female quarters.Men,who occupied the front rooms of the house,had freedom to prowl throughout.Women were confined to the inner courtyards.Hampered by bound feet(during the Qing dynasty) and claus-trophobic trophobic traditions,they were virtual prisoners of their chambers.The bed thus became the center of their world.when the curtains around the canopy bed were drawn,it became a potent symbol of sexual intimacy.But when the curtains were pulled back,the bedding rolled up and tables pulled alongside,the bed became a wife鈥檚 private reception hall.Soft bolsters,cushions and kang tables added luxury and comfort and allowed women to idle away the hours by eating,playing games and embroidering.
If the horseshoe chair was the symbol of power for men,the canopy bed marked the social rank of the wives within the home .Status could literally be measured by the craftsmanship.The pampered wife demanded an ornate bed decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay or carved scenic panels.A marriage bed-or canopy bed-described in a passage from the 18th classic novel dream of the red mansion was enshwouded by purple gauze curtains to create a romantic atmosphere.Because of its importance in procreation-most sexual encounters took place in the women鈥檚 quarters-it was critical that bed be made with favorable dimensions and inscribed with symbolic carvings such as plum blossoms and bats to depict immortality,happiness,longevity and wealth.In contrast,there are few descriptions of male sleeping chambers.what we know is that the long,narrow platforms known as day beds were shuffled at whim from study to garden.Larger versions with three sides-referred to as a counch bed or luohan chuiang-were too heavy to move around and usually remained within the confines of a study or bedchamber (fig 286)

Day beds
To  the  western eye,a day bed resembles an oversized bench.Although it is the most popular form of bed in China,it has no counterpart in the West.It is of oriental original.Its progenitor was the low-lying ta.With subsequent generations,the ta grew higher,reaching 16inches(41cm)off the floor.With the exception of some archaic examples found in Shanxi province,the original low-lying day bed has all but disappeared from the Chinese furniture repertoire.Those that remain are relics of the past.

If there is one item among Chinese furniture that has been consistently cut down for contemporary use,it is the lowly day bed.Many have been converted into generous coffee tables for the Asian-style home.