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.
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.
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
- set up an area where you can hang the duck for 8 – 12 hours (e.g. over the sink, etc.)
- fill up the kettle and put it on.
- spoon out 1 tbs of honey and put the spoon in a mug.
- wash the duck and clean out all the giblets
- pour half a mug of hot water into the honey containing mug.
- 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.
- hang the duck and pour the honey water over the skin.
- leave the duck alone for 8 – 12 hours
- 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.
- leave to rest for 15 mins if you can resist the temptation, carve it out, sprinkle with salt and enjoy!
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.
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.
Click here to see a embroidery version of this theme and below is a puppet version.
Like other forms of Chinese theater, the glove puppet follows the same cast catagories. This puppet head belongs to the Jing category (painted face), a forceful character and the sub category of Black Flower (Hei Hua) which denotes a strong temperament but integrity (a bit like Captain Haddock in the Tin Tin comic). Junior means a younger character, hence there is also Black Flower Senior who comes with beard. Hei Hua Junior is often cast as the talented officers for a respected official
This is a necklace with a wood carving of a lotus pod. Like the real thing seeds are movable but cannot be taken out unless you break open the pod. These fresh lotus seeds were one of my favorite childhood snacks, what can be better than a soft package with refreshing sweet capsules. Sadly, they are not as easily found markets of Hong Kong anymore.
This is the figurine of one of the five goat riding saints, the legend goes back to 880 B.C. when Guangzhou was constantly hit by famine and plague, there were 5 saints each with a different colour garment and each riding a different colour goat. The 5 saints each offer 6 stalk of rice to the residence and bless the city to be free of famine. The goat 羊 is homophone to the word blessed 祥, which resulted in Guangzhou being also known as the 5 Goats City. It was a wish for the ancient farmers, never to stave again.
Great imagination to take a piece of wood rose and made it into a broody hen!
The wood rose is an unique material, it is actually the gall developed by the tree who has been parasites by mistletoe. Mistletoe, apart from the kissing part, is actually a parasite which cost great damages to trees that they host on. The wood rose is the masses of woody tissue the tree tried to defend itself from the mistletoe and the mistletoe on the other hand leaves mushroom like malformation on the wood.