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.