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Why did furniture in the Qing Dynasty often use longevity patterns for decoration?

The longevity pattern is widely used in furniture, utensils, ceramics, and other fields. There are both multi character composition and single character composition, with rounded shapes called Yuanshou or Tuanshou, as well as Huashou, and long shapes called Changshou. The lines of ‘Tuan Shou’ surround continuously, symbolizing the continuity of life; Longevity “refers to the use of the character” longevity “to represent the longevity of life. And Huashou is a combination of Shou characters and patterns, with Shou characters as the theme, supplemented by various auspicious characters, flowers, etc. In the Qing Dynasty, furniture was often carved with longevity patterns to indicate auspiciousness and longevity. So why did the Qing Dynasty like to use the character “Shou” for decoration so much?


In the system of the Qing Dynasty, the birthday of the emperor is Longevity Day, the birthday of the Empress dowager is Holy Birthday, and the birthday of the empress is Qianqiu Festival, all of which are national festivals. Among them, Wanshou Festival is the most grand, known as the “Three Great Festivals” of the Qing Dynasty along with New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice. Especially when the emperor celebrates his tenth birthday, the whole country should celebrate. On Longevity Day, the Qing court will hold a grand court meeting. The emperor will go to the Hall of Supreme Harmony to receive the greetings from kings, bailes, shellfish, civil and military officials and foreign envoys. Then he will move to the Qianqing Palace to receive the internal court greetings from the emperor’s sons, grandchildren and empresses. Its ceremony is slightly similar to the New Year’s Day and Winter Solstice festivals.

The difference is that everyone participating in the birthday celebration must contribute a birthday gift to the emperor. According to the customs of the Qing Dynasty palace, birthday gifts include Ruyi, Shoufo, calligraphy and painting, pearl rooms, and gold and silver products. The Qing Dynasty Palace Office has seized this opportunity even more effectively. Every year, there are countless layers of furniture with the theme of Longevity Day, including various crafts such as inlaying, carving, and painting, all of which have longevity patterns.


In feudal culture, “filial piety” is the main culture, so “longevity” culture is also a historical inheritance among the people. Under the influence of the widely promoted “Shou” culture in the Qing Dynasty, the folk “Shou” culture became even more popular. Therefore, folk furniture cannot be separated from the “Shou” culture, and various “Shou” character patterns were shining brightly on Qing Dynasty furniture, many of which have been passed down to today. Nowadays, some mahogany furniture still prefers to use longevity patterns for decoration, such as high-end mahogany furniture brand Dingtan. The backrest of chairs and shelves on beds are often decorated with longevity patterns, which are exquisitely carved and reflect the rich traditional Chinese culture.

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