Archives for the month of: March, 2012

L240xW150mm, Japan

This is an ukiyo-e print of the actor Bando Sampachi I (Heikyu) as Yawata no Saburo published in 1770.  The print beared the tsubo seal of the artist Katsukawa Shunsho.  Katsukawa Shunsho is the leading artist of the Katsukawa school which specializes in prints of the kabuki actors, sumo wrestlers and bijinga (beautiful women).  Shunsho pioneered in realistic portrait of the kabuki actors which contrast with the stylized prints of the Torii school with the individuality of the actor himself identified.

W120xH120mm, China

How to Play: Put the palms together with the vertical stick in between, rub quickly the hands in opposite direction and release, the toy will fly up the sky like a helicopter!  This toy has been documented in Baopuzi around 400AC, if one can travel in time, it would be amazing to have this toy inventor sitting in a helicopter!

DIA130xH130mm, China

Since the Tang dynasty , eating utensils have been made from the shell of the coconut.  In the Sung dynasty, they even favored by the intellectuals of the time, the carving became refined and decorative so refined that by the Ming and Qing dynasty, coconut carvings have made it as a imperial offering to the Emperor!  There are broadly 2 types of coconut teapots; the first has a inner layer made of metal (pewter, silver, bronze etc) and small pieces of coconut shell set over, the second (like this one) is made from a whole coconut shell.

W140xH140mm, India

Shisha (originated from the Persian word shisheh which means glass) is a form of embroidery that is very popular in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi of India.  Shisha embroidery is believed to originate in Perisa in the 13th century and brought to India by Persianate Moghul Dynasty.  This form of embroidery can be found on garments, accessories and even for home furnishing product, the glass is usually paired with the colorful fabric used in the area.  This is a small bag with mirror shisha embroidery and tasseled with bronze discs.

CIR900mm, China

This is the standard 108 beads buddhist rosary, the rosary can be of different numbers of beads 21, 42, 14, 27, 54 with 1080 being the longest. The 108 beads is aimed to defeat the 108 earthly desires;

lack of comprehension
violent temper

(also see entry for buddhist rosary, buddhist prayer beads)

L330xH20mm, Mongolia

In Mongolia Shamanism the Blue Mighty Eternal Heaven (Mongke Tengri) is worshipped, in its legend 6 treasures was given by the Blue Sky to the Mongolian, 3 big treasures and 3 small ones.  The 3 big treasures are, yurts, grassland, cattle and sheep, the 3 small treasures are, Mongolian knife, matouqin and dairy products.  Hence, the Mongolian knife is treated also as a sign of blessing on top of it function.  In the nomadic days, a mongolian man who wear it by the waist together with the snuff bottle and the Mongolian flink.  The sheath has 2 holes for keeping a pair of chopsticks, isnt this the perfect eating kit for nomadic life.

DIA230xH30mm, China

Yan, inkstone is one of the 4 stationary treasures of China, i.e., brush, ink, inkstone, paper.  The main function of the inkstone is for grinding the ink stick in preparation for the ink.  Before the inventory of inkstone, people would getting the pigment directly from the ink stick, this however is very restrictive in the size of the calligraphy word or painting, the brush would have ran out of ink when writing bigger size word.  To over come this problem, in Shang dynasty (17th century BC), flat and hard object (stone, bronze, jade, iron, brick) would be used for ink grinding.  Stone is the far most popular and liked material for inkstone, the stone type are also very selective.  This inkstone is a more utilitarian type, having no carving and the addition of a spout, its is most probably used to make a large quantity of ink for task like wood block printing.

W100xH170mm, China

Since the Siu dynasty 605 AD, China has developed a system in the selection of her officials basing on a literature examination, this system continued till the last examination held in 1905.  By the Tang dynasty, the examination system was very refined; divided into several parts they are held at interval within a year, 50 topics are covered, all the examination will be overseen by the .  By passing the test, one gain the title of the test.  At the final stage, a selected few will be given questions set by the Emperor himself.  The top scholar, Zhuang Yuan, from the final exam will be paraded in the town of Beijing which is what this embroidery is depicting.  This embroidery is taken out from a large embroidery, something like a curtain, we have framed it as a painting.

W150xD100xH300mm, China

There are numerous gods of wealth in China, mainly there are 3 more popular ones, the Main God of Wealth (Zhao Gong Ming, also known as the Moon God of Wealth), the Intellectual God of Wealth (Fan Li) and the Martial God of Wealth (Guan Yu).  This is a figurine of the Main God of Wealth.

And you might ask why is he has a pet tiger, well actually that is his transportation which he picked up on the way to the war of  Emporer Shang Zhou Wang.
(see the same figure in wood for his legend: God of Wealth)

L75mm, China

Tobacco was not introduced to China until the 17th century (imagine a smoke free China!), it very quickly became a hit in the Guangdong region through trading with the Philippines (then Spanish colony).  Nowadays, the paper wrapped tobacco cigarette are held between 2 fingers to be smoked, in old China smoking was a refined business. There were different tools for smoking (see water pipe), one of the common tools is the Yan Dai Guo, it consists of a pipe stem, a tobacco sac (the chamber of the pipe) and a mouth piece.  In the old days both men and women would carried with them these smoking items together with a tobacco bag (dried tobacco storage), there is an old saying that goes; tobacco sac is inseparable from the tobacco bag, the old chap is inseparable from the old wife.  The pipe stem for man is normally 150mm in length and the ladies very longer and has a smaller mouth piece.  This jade mouth piece would have been used by a middle class lady, the material of the mouth piece would tell a lot of the social status of the person (just as watches is for today), a common folk would use bronze while the well off would use materials such as jade, ivory, silver or gold.