Stone table and barrel seats
Stone tables and seats feature in many classical Chinese gardens, where people could sit, relax and admire their surroundings. Here, each seat is carved with a flower or tree to represent a season.
Chess was a favourite pastime in gardens, and gaming boards were sometimes cut into a stone table. In Chinese mythology, immortals often play chess and traditionally garden landscapes and activities were associated with a personal quest to achieve immortality.
A scholar might also sit at a table to play the Chinese zither, or gu qin, a seven-stringed musical instrument. The philosopher Confucius played the zither, and its music was thought to be intellectually stimulating and morally uplifting.
Left: Two immortals can be seen playing chess at a stone table in a garden on this stoneware wine jar.
Right: On this silk fan, a scholar sits reading at a table. Behind him is a naturally eroded scholar’s rock.