Lateral stretcher from the base of a funerary couch with Sogdian musicians and a dancer

Historical period(s)
Period of Division, Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Grey marble with traces of pigment
H x W x D: 19.7 x 95.3 x 16.5 cm (7 3/4 x 37 1/2 x 6 1/2 in)
China, Henan province, Probably Ce Xian
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 16: Center of the World: China and the Silk Road
Sculpture, Stone

Couch (fragment)

Buddhism, China, funerary, Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577), Period of Division (220 - 589), pipa

To 1915
Lai-Yuan and Company, New York, to 1915 [1]

From 1915 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Lai-Yuan and Company in 1915 [2]

From 1920
The Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Miscellaneous List, S.I. 683, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Lai-Yuan & Company (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1915-April 1921


The Central Asian musicians and dancer, possibly of the Sogdian culture group, depicted on these panels attest to the international character of the Northern Qi dynasty, established in China in 550 following military conquest by people of Turkic origins. Musicians traveling the Silk Route introduced new instruments, such as harps and the bent-neck lute, which some scholars associate with the Persian barbat. The foreign lute influenced the development of the modern pipa, a lyrical Chinese lute now popular in chamber ensembles.

These stone carvings once belonged to a stone platform that was made to support the coffin of a Northern Qi dignitary. Inverted lotus petals are a motif frequently seen in images associated with Buddhism, the faith of the Northern Qi rulers-form the border.

Published References
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 3: pl. 51.
  • Emma C. Bunker. The Spirit Kings in Sixth Century Chinese Buddhist Sculpture. vol. 18 Honolulu. vol. 18: p. 33, fig. 19.
  • Sekai bijutsu zenshu [A Complete Collection of World Art]. 40 vols., Tokyo, 1960-1966. vol. 15 (1961), pl. 6.
  • Laurence Sickman, Alexander Coburn Soper. The Art and Architecture of China. The Pelican History of Art London and Baltimore. pls. 40-41.
  • Sigisbert Chrétien Bosch Reitz. Catalogue of an Exhibition of Early Chinese Pottery and Sculpture. Exh. cat. New York. pl. 331.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 76, vol. 1: p. 172.
  • Gustina Scaglia. Central Asians on a Northern Ch'i Gate Shrine. vol. 21, no. 1 Washington and Zurich. p. 11, fig. 1.
  • Sascha Priewe. Das Zhangdefu-Sargbett; Grundlegende Fragen Erneut Gestellt [Re-examination of a Sogdian Funerary Bed]. vol. 17 Berlin. pp. 15-24.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
The Sogdians
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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