Until the establishment of the Republic in 1911, the canopy bed was the most important and symbolically imbued piece of furniture in a Chinese household. Usually part of the bride’s dowry and an important signifier of status, it was an intimate enclosure for pleasure at night and provided seating for socializing during the day. Because of the bed’s important role in the procreation of sons, the alcove’s overall surface decoration displays auspicious motifs. For example, the small four-character inscription on top of the entrance conveys wishes of prosperity to the generations to come (wu shi qi chang). Likewise, horizontal panels carved with scenes and motifs from Chinese drama, Daoist imagery and rebuses all allude to the themes of fertility, longevity and a happy union.