Wooden torture chair with 12 steel blades, China, 1701-1900

Made:
1701-1900 in China
maker:
Unknown

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Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Detail view to show blades. White background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Detail view to show blades. Black background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Three quarter front view of whole object. Graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Three quarter side view of whole object. Graduated grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Detail view to show blades. Grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Detail view to show blades. Grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. Detail view to show blades in seat and detail of wood. Grey background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Figures from arms of torture chair, Chinese, 1701-1900. General view. Dark grey to black graduated background.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden chair set with 12 steel blades, Chinese, 1701-1900, formerly thought to be a torture chair.

Despite its unpleasant associations, this chair is ornately decorated with foliage, scrolls and the heads of mythological sea monsters called Macara. It is made from wood with 12 steel blades in the arm, back and foot rests and seat. For many years this chair was believed to be a torture instrument, however, they were used by Chinese mediums or Tangki whilst channeling the spirit of a God. Sitting on the blades demonstrated the superhuman power of the God over the human flesh, which remained unharmed.

Details

Category:
Wellcome (general)
Object Number:
A634731
Materials:
blades (12), steel, chair, wood
type:
torture chair
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • furnishing - artefact
  • furniture
  • seating furniture
  • chair

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