Mortuary Bed of Song Shaozu

Upon their burial, Song Shaozu and his wife were laid directly on a U-shaped stone platform or bed inside the sarcophagus. Four carved stone slabs originally embellished the front faces of the platform. The skillfully carved decoration includes undulating scroll patterns and a monster mask with curled horns. Elements of the design, such as the half-palmette and bead border, arrived with Buddhism along the Silk Road. On the interior walls of the sarcophagus are the faint remains of painted musicians and dancers meant to entertain the deceased in the afterlife. The variety of sources for the decorative scheme of this elite burial demonstrates the dynamic interaction and synthesis of cultures at this time.

Section of Mortuary Bed, Northern Wei dynasty (386–535 CE), tomb dated 477 CE, sandstone, unearthed 2000, tomb of Song Shaozu (d. 477 CE), Caofulou Village, Datong, Shanxi Province, Shanxi Museum, Taiyuan

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