Archives for the month of: July, 2012

W200xD150xH500mm, China

This figurine was made from the famous Shi Wan pottery town in the Guang Dong region.  Their figurines are typical to have a glazeless delicate facial and hand depiction while contrasting with an expressive and bold glazing on the clothing.  Another example can be seen in an earlier post, “Shi Wan Figurines“.

The general depicted here is one of the “3 good blokes” of the Tang dynasty, Pei Yuan Qing, his weapon is a pair of golden melon hammer.

You will be seen in this clip how the weapon  is being used (well at least in the Beijing opera).  This is a graduation show from the students of the Beijing opera school.

My dog spike has started sighing, ok ok, I promise no more Chinese opera reference for a while.

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L1200xH700mm, China

For those of you who has followed the recent historical comedy soap on TVB, here is a new year print from the yang liu qing school depicting the same story (minus the satire).  This story is set in the San Gou period, it was a time when China was divided into 3 separate kingdoms , a time after the corrupted East Han dynasty, warring period that lasted for almost 100 years.

Briefly the 3 kingdoms are;
WEI – led by East Han chancellor Cao Cao, adviser Sima Yi
WU – led by Sun Quan, adviser Zhou Yu
SHU – led by Liu Bei, general Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, adviser Zhu Ge Liang

The Return to Jing Zhou

Sun Quan and Zhou Yu (WU) set up a plan to get Liu Bei (SHU) to hand over his strong hold Jing Zhou.  Sun Quan has a beautiful sister, he proposed to Liu Bei for a marriage to his sister, a union of the 2 kingdoms. Liu Bei in return would have to go to WU for the wedding.  This is a proposal Liu Bei cannot lightly turn down for the sake of his kingdom.  Sun Quan however has no real intention of marrying his sister to his enemy, he would wanted to capture Liu Bei and and force him to hand over his kingdom.  Luckily before Liu Bei’s departure, his wizard adviser Zhu Ge Liang see through the trick and handed 3 notes to Zhao Yun and asked him to escort Liu Bei to Wu.  When Liu Bei crossed to Wu he opened the first note, it asked Liu Bei to visit the father in law of Sun Quan.  Impressed by Liu Bei and thinking that a union of the 2 kingdoms is a good idea from Sun Quan, the in law asked for Sun Quan’s mother for her approval for the marriage.  The empress dowager agreed and the marriage went ahead.  Sun Quan found out he has lost his sister, set out to detained Liu Bei in Wu.  Liu Bei opened the second note, it asked for a faked report that Jing Zhou was being attacked by now their common enemy Cao Cao (WEI).  Having a great excuse, Liu Bei together with his newly married wife and his men left Wu for Jing Zhou.  Sun Quan found out and had his general went after them.  Liu Bei then opened his third note, in the note it asked him to leave the defense to his wife.  Now in love with Liu Bei, the princess gave the general a hard time and refused to return to Wu.  When Liu Bei returned to Jing Zhou, Sun Quan’s army was confronted by Liu Bei’s general Zhang Fei and badly defeated.

Here goes the idiom, “lost the lady and  the army” (making double lost without any gain)

In this yang liu qing school print, we have from the left Liu Bei, Zhao Yun, maid 1, Princess Quan, maid 2, Guan Yu and lastly Zhang Fei

The story was also a very known script for the Beijing opera, here is a part of the opera.  The opera singers were the master of masters, the leading dan role was performed by Mr. Mei Lan Fang (in the past all roles are played by male artists).

H100xW50xD60mm, China

Wonder what a villain looks like?  This is a typical villain of the Chinese glove puppet, all villains have a white painted face with black features.  A word of caution: the white face villains came in all different ages, from a young chap to the bad government official and finally the elderly villain.  The shown in the photo here is one of the main villain in a puppet show, someone who has high power and no fear, for example, a prime minister who gave manipulate the emperor  etc.

W40xD20xH120mm, China

This is a figurine of the God of Longevity in an early post.  You might notice that he is always carrying a long cane; this cane came from the state banquet held for all the OAP (the 70+) in the East Han dynasty.  The emperor had the cane specially made for all those who attended the party, the cane symbolized the privileges that were awarded to the elderly.  The head of the cane was decorated with a turtledove thus its called a turtledove cane.

W40xD60xH200mm, China

This is a pair of wooden candle stand that would have been mounted on a metal or wooden base, the candle would be fixed on top of the wooden stick.  Traditional Chinese candles besides having a wick embedded, a small bamboo rod is also embedded on the bottom end.  The bamboo rod made it easier for securing the candle, may it be on a candle stand, in the sand or simply in the ground.  This pair of candle stand has a relief carving of the dragon, painted in red and gold, symbolizing blessings, they would have been used for happy occasions like grand birthdays, promotions, birth of a child, etc.

DIA100xH40mm, Cambodia

This silver box is part of a betel set.  Betel chewing, a tradition since prehistorical time, was a popular past time all over Asia, enjoyed by men and women alike, in all social levels.  Betel leaf, areca nut, lime paste, camphor, cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco etc are ingredients for betel chewing; they are stored in separate containers ready for consumption.  These container can be made of ratten, wood, lacquered, copper, silver and even gold.  In Cambodia, for common people silverware are not used as daily utensils, they are prized object used only for entertaining important people or in ceremonies.

W250xH200xD160mm, Japan

The proportion of this small chest of drawers reminded me of Mondrian, this Japanese Tansu is for storing personal accessories.

These portable chest of drawers originated from the cash boxes in the merchants’ houses of the Edo period, then people started to bring it to their bedrooms for keeping valuable goods.  Nowadays they are used for keeping stationary, as a treasure box in Japan.  A beautiful box for tidying up small things.


W40xD50xH120mm, China

This is a pair of brown glazed candle stand with a lion figurine.  The lion style candle stand has been popular since the Jin dynasty (at that time the lion is more chubby and the candle holder is attached to the figurine itself).  The Chinese believe that the lion is the king of the animals and thus can offer protection, aside from the other animals also from evils.

W350xD150xH700mm, Indonesia

This wooden figurine depicted the some of the instrument used in a Balinese gamelan.  Gamelan is the traditional Indonesian musical ensemble which is accompanied by dances, puppet performances or rituals, a dancer is also represented on this carving.

The player on the right is playing a castanet.  The drum played by the figurine on the left is known as a kendang, a two sided drum, which is made from hollowing out from the trunk of a tree.  The kendang player is the leader of the gamelan, giving clues to the other players.  Here is how it sound like solo;

H300x W190mm, China

The fisherman is one of the fundamental role in old agricultural based China.  Fisherman, wood cutter, farmer and intellectual are the four main roles; they have been the theme for many artworks, in fact, the 4 are a collective noun “yu qiao geng dou”.  Yu refers to the fisherman, yan zi ling, Yan was a classmate of the first emperor of the East Han dynasty.  Despite numerous invitation to become an government official, he declined and remained  a fisherman until old age.  Qiao, was the wood cutter Zhu Mai Chen, a high official of the Han dynasty.  Zhu love reading, from a poor family he was in such poverty that even his wife left him but for his determination he was recognized.   Geng, farming, is Emperor Shun (the legendary second emperor, 1700BC) teaching his people how to farm.  Dou, the intellectual, is Su Qin, the hardworking scholar who would use an awl to pitch himself if he has fallen asleep at his study.  The phase “yu qiao geng dou” not only recognized the 4 roles being fundamental, it also projected a desire of the rural commoners to become the part of the officials.