Archives for posts with tag: carving


Some point in every boy’s childhood came the grand project of making a toy boat.

This keel is part of my father’s.
Carved out from a single piece of wood, its almost sculpture like.
The smoothness of the surface, the textured interior reminded me of the coco de mer.

Boys today are more sensitive in digital nature, perceiving the world through the screen and the input device.


W120xD100xH480, Burma

This is a figurine of the Buddha with an alms bowl standing on a lotus flower.

In Theravada Buddhism, “pindacara” a daily alms collection of food “pindapata” is practiced by the monks (and nuns).  The word for monk “bhikkhu” means one who lives on alms, while “pindapata” means dropping a lump.  The monks would leave their monastery, in a group they walk barefooted in single file according to seniority, their robe formally arranged covering both shoulders.  The route will go through the village house by house, accepting but never requesting food that is dropped into the bowls.  This figurine, the Buddha, is leading figurine of a group which consists of monks of different heights which unfortunately is not with us.

Monks in Burma

the second film has a more in depth view of a monk’ life.

fabric stensil2fabric stensil2


This cute little wood carving is in fact a tool, a wood block stencil for fabric printing in India, bunta.  The stencil is painstakingly carved out from a solid piece of wood guiding only by a rough piece of paper template.  Here is how they are made.

Check out our other bunta.

golden wood carvingL80xW40xH110mm, China

A mythical character in the epic “Feng Shen Yan Yi”  which described all the saintly figures, his name is Zhun Ti Dao Ren.  Zhun Ti was said to have come from the West, the land of Buddhism, bringing with him the wisdom and teaching of the Buddha.

The carriage of Zhun Ti Dao Ren is the famous Wisdom Peacock, Mahamayuri, the son of the Phoenix.

blue rock  W130xD20xH80mm, China

A curious blue object.

This is no modern art but a carving of the Shou Shan stone.  The blue, without the artistic symbolism of Western art of the sacred, the heaven, the ideal, the escape etc etc was a mean of disguise.  During the cultural revolution, all objects of art and decoration were target to be destroy and its owner punished.  The owner must have treasured this object, instead of destroying it like many art object at the time, a layer of blue paint was applied to escape the prying eyes of the red guards.

Odd at it is, we have kept the blue paint on, as it is part of the history of this object.

L580xW140xH360mm, L620xW150xH340mm, China

A pair or lions; the lion playing with the sau kau is a male and the other with the cub is a lioness.

These pair of wood carving is part of an architectural element, in fact it is part of the bracket that hold up the beam in traditional Chinese architecture.  This highly decorative architectural / structural elements are found in the south, in larger building such as ancestral homes.

In the building the lions would have been view with their tails on the upper part and their heads at the bottom, as in the photo below.

beam carving

Thai Buddha

W100xD70xH220mm, Thailand

Mudras are symbolic hand gestures, without the use of words it communicates the mind’s idea which is more powerful than language.

This is a Buddha statue in the Bhumisparsha Mudra posture, with his right hand resting on knee while reaching toward the earth and the left hand lies on the lap facing upward.  This gesture is also known as the “earth witness” which is the most iconic image of Buddhism.  This gesture symbolizes unshakability and steadfastness; the legend goes just before Siddhartha Gautama was enlightened to become the Buddha, demon Mara called upon his armies of monster to attacking, hoping to scare him away from his meditation under the bodhi tree.  Siddhartha stayed unshaken and  continued his mediation.  The demon claimed the enlightenment for himself and called for his monsters to give witness to his superior spiritual achievements, Mara then asked Siddhartha if anyone could give witness for him.  Siddhartha simply extended his hand to reach the ground and the earth responded and giving witness for him.  Mara was defeated at his own challenge and vanished.  The next day Siddhartha Gautama enlightened to become the Buddha himself.   The serene expression of this figurine best captured this moment of enlightenment.

Here is a monk practicing more mudra gestures.


L350xW190xH200mm, China

A wood carving of a duck with hand painted feathers.

I am afraid there is no Chinese legends of ducks but only recipes …

Cantonese Roast Duck


  • 1 duck
  • 1 tbs of honey
  • Chinese spiced salt


  1. set up an area where you can hang the duck for 8 – 12 hours (e.g. over the sink, etc.)
  2. fill up the kettle and put it on.
  3. spoon out 1 tbs of honey and put the spoon in a mug.
  4. wash the duck and clean out all the giblets
  5. pour half a mug of hot water into the honey containing mug.
  6. in an unplugged sink, carefully pour the rest of the boiling water over the outside of the duck, you will notice the skin will tighten up as the water touches.
  7. hang the duck and pour the honey water over the skin.
  8. leave the duck alone for 8 – 12 hours
  9. in a preheated oven  roast the duck breast side up for 20 mins at 180c, turn it over and roast for another 20 mins, then breast side up again for another 20 mins.
  10. leave to rest for 15 mins if you can resist the temptation, carve it out, sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

lacquer Bodhidharma

W300xD200xH800mm, China

This is a statue of the Bodhidharma, the Buddhist monk who is accredited to have introduced Buddhism to China.   It is believed that he is the third son of King Tamil Pallava of Kanchipuram and arrived to the now Guangzhou area in Southern Northern Dynasty (470AD).  The most famous legend about Bodhidharma is his wall glazing.  After felling out with Emperor in the Southern State, Bodhidharma travel up Yang Tze River, arrived at Shao Lin Temple and meditated by glazing on the wall for 9 years.

He is also believed to have introduced the 72 Shao Lin super kung fu and here is one of them.

wood carving

W70xD50xH140mm, China

This wood carving is depicting the event of the top scholar of the year, Zhuang Yuan, a parade showing off his achievement.  Early on the Chinese has established a strong examination system for the selection of her court officials.  The procession started inside the Jin Luan Dian, one of the three main courts of the forbidden city, this is here the Emperor will announce the top 3 scholars, their name will be sang out.  After thanking the Emperor, the Zhuang Yuan will depart the Jin Luan Dian, passing the Tai He Men, Wu Men, Duan Men, Cheng Tian Men, Ta Ming Men then head back to Chang An Zho Men to exit the forbidden city and continue his celebratory journey home.  Chang An Zho Men, now demolished, is the single entrance for “non-emperor”.  On the day of the results, after names of the Zhuang Yuan and others have been sang out in Jin Luan Dian, their names will be written on two yellow piece of paper, one to be kept as a record inside the court and the other larger piece to be posted inside a a temporary scaffolding hut outside Chang An Zho Men.  The examination system was a attempt to find the most capable regardless of the social background, it is similar the Chinese legend of the carps jumping up the sky in belief that they will become dragons.  For this the Chang An Zho Men (left door by Chang An Street) is also known as the Dragon Gate.

See the journey on map.

wood carving

Click here to see a embroidery version of this theme and below is a puppet version.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 262 other followers