Lonely Planet Writer

New bed museum in Chongqing displays China’s most ornate gold bed

A museum has just opened in western China displaying one of the country’s most ornate beds. The Bayu Ancient Bed Museum in Chongqing was formerly a wedding hall, but closed in August 2014 and reopened this week as a museum. Inside, 22 beds are on display – most of them from the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) – including what has been termed by museum curators as the ‘World’s Number 1 Bed’.

Luxury antique bed on display at the Bayu Ancient Bed Museum in Yubei district, Chongqing, China.
Luxury antique bed on display at the Bayu Ancient Bed Museum in Yubei district, Chongqing, China. Image by Imaginechina

Made from 200g of gold sheets carved into ornate patterns of orchids, bamboo, butterflies, peonies and chrysanthemums, the bed was a Qing-dynasty dowry piece. It belonged to the wealthy Dai family and dates to the mid-1800s. It took a group of craftsman around three years to complete. The gold bed forms the Bayu Ancient Bed Museum’s crowning exhibit.

Detail on antique bed at the Bayu Ancient Bed Museum.
Detail on antique bed at the Bayu Ancient Bed Museum. Image by Imaginechina

A number of other ancient Chinese beds are also on display in the museum, including the elaborate Ningbo bed, which had storage, wash basins and a toilet, as well as the Ming dynasty Babu bed, which has surrounding windows that form a kind of ‘cloister’. The museum’s other exhibits cover folk life in the Bayu region, including religion and spiritual beliefs, marriage customs and handicrafts.