Funerary Couch with Images of Filial Piety (Translation)
綫刻孝子圍屏石棺床 北魏 (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

Educational
early 6th century
Chinese
Limestone with pigments, gold and silver leaf
China
Overall: 36 3/4 × 82 3/4 × 39 3/8 in. (93.35 × 210.19 × 100.01 cm)
Overall (a): 19 3/4 × 37 1/2 × 2 in. (50.17 × 95.25 × 5.08 cm)
Overall (b): 20 × 39 1/2 × 2 1/4 in. (50.8 × 100.33 × 5.72 cm)
Overall (c): 19 3/4 × 38 1/4 × 2 1/2 in. (50.17 × 97.16 × 6.35 cm)
Overall (d): 19 3/4 × 38 1/4 × 2 1/2 in. (50.17 × 97.16 × 6.35 cm)
Overall (e): 17 1/4 × 49 1/2 × 5 1/2 in. (43.82 × 125.73 × 13.97 cm)
Overall (f): 17 1/8 × 35 1/2 × 5 in. (43.5 × 90.17 × 12.7 cm)
Overall (g): 17 3/4 × 18 1/4 × 3 1/2 in. (45.09 × 46.36 × 8.89 cm)
Overall (h): 18 × 19 × 4 in. (45.72 × 48.26 × 10.16 cm)
2005.7a-h
Imitating wooden household furniture, this stone couch is a rare example of what was used as a platform for supporting a coffin in the burial chamber of a tomb. The design and function of the couch reflect the ancient Chinese belief in immortality, which was popular in early 6th-century China.

These iconographical details have integrated Chinese tradition and Central Asian elements. The front panels of this couch feature painted towers and a wall, as if leading through the entranceway to a private property. Details include molded roof tiles and painted designs of wooden frames and brackets, representing Chinese architectural components of the period. The couch is enclosed by a four-paneled screen that form the back and sides. The panels are incised with twelve scenes, including a seated couple (the tomb occupants), processions, and Chinese stories of filial piety, which became well known with the growing popularity of Confucius' teachings. The baseboard and legs are carved with mythological animals including a dragon, the Wind Spirit, and the Thunder Spirit.
The owner and the origin of the couch are unclear. Judging from the pictorial style and the stone construction, it most likely belongs to a local Chinese official from central North China.
Northern Wei dynasty (386-535)
None
None
Image 3: 此是董永看父鋤時 Image 4: 此是王寄(祥)日用三生母食時 Image 5: 丁蘭侍木母食時 Image 6: 孝孫持祖還舍來緣時 Image 7: 此是蔡順臨尸見火不起時 Image 8: 孝子郭鉅殺兒養母天金一釜
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
"Ritual Objects and Early Buddhist Art," Gisele Croës, Arts d'Extreme-Orient, at Gallery Danese, 41 E. 57th Street, NY, NY, 22 - 31 March 2004
Barriault, Anne B., and Kay M. Davidson. "Selections from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts". Richmond, VA: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007. (pp. 130-131, ill. pp. 122-123, 131)
"Ritual Objects and Early Buddhist Art," Gisele Croës,
Arts d'Extreme-Orient, catalogue, Brussels pp.23-55, ill. 25-55, 2004
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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