3D Puzzle: Chinese Museum assembles an antique Australian-Chinese bed
In this short video you get to see how a beautiful Qing dynasty Chinese canopy bed is assembled without the use of glue or nails while the Chinese Museum's Curator, Dr Sophie Couchman explains how the bed is both a Chinese and an Australian bed.
So the Chinese Museum is incredibly excited to have this new addition to our collection and indeed to our displays. This beautiful Qing Dynasty bed.
It’s been quite a while in coming, there’s been a lot of planning involved in order to get the bed in place and find a place for it in the museum.
Yesterday we spent the day pulling the bed apart in the donor’s bedroom and wrapping each of the, over 50 pieces, individually wrapped and labelled and delivered to the museum. And then we spent today pulling it all together again. So it’s like an enormous 3D jigsaw puzzle.
One of the beautifully elegant things about Chinese woodwork and craftsmanship – there are no nails in this bed at all, there’s just a very minimal use of glue and so everything slots in with interlocking joints.
There’s a few things I love about the bed. The first thing that I love is – I think it’s a beautiful bed. I love the balance between the very simple lines and simple decorations like these. Versus the incredible detail that you have here – where there are little stories being performed in the decoration.
The symbols that we have identified are all about longevity, marital happiness, they’re about good fortune. They’re the sorts of things that you would imagine associated with a bed such as this.
So what do we know about the history of this bed? It came to Australia, we believe, probably sometime in the 19th century – maybe the early 20th century, but probably the 19th century. And we believe it was brought to Tasmania by a sea captain and this sea captain had been working, trading between Tasmania and Canton. He was transporting sand, something to do with making porcelain. When he decided to retire he was given this beautiful bed. And brought it back with him to Tasmania, where he had it set up in his house.
He eventually died, the house and all the contents of the house were bought by a man who also lived in Tasmania called Colin Self and he also, we believe, slept in the bed. The bed ended up actually in the cow shed of the property. I assume in lots of little bits, and that was where an art dealer from Melbourne discovered the bed and purchased the bed. And brought it back to Melbourne, sold it to the family that have donated it to us – Jill and Frank Jones. They set it up in their beautiful house, in their bedroom and they slept in it for over 40 years.
One of the things that’s very beautiful about this bed is that even though it’s very Chinese, its actually had a very intimate space in a number of Australian’s lives.
他去世后，房子和里面所有的东西都被一个也居住在塔斯马尼亚的名叫Colin Self男士购买，我们认为Colin Self也曾使用过这张床。这张床最后被放置在院子的牛棚里，我想象着应该是七零八碎地放置着，后来被来自墨尔本的一个艺术品经纪人发现、购买并带回墨尔本，最后卖给了现在捐赠给博物馆的这户人家—Jones夫妇（Jill和Frank）。他们把床放在了在卧室，使用了40多年。