Archives for the month of: May, 2013

alabaster plate

Alabaster Plate

W120xL120mm, China

Calcite alabaster is known as commonly as the Han Jade as this type of white marble was used for fine architectural carving since the Han dynasty.  This pair of alabaster plates would have been used as part of the utensils for serving tea  outdoor.  Carving on top of the plates are flowers of the 4 seasons; Narcissus, Lotus, Chrysanthemum, Plum Blossom.

On the other corners are verses taken from the draft letter from the calligrapher Yan Zhen Qing to corrupt general Guo Ying Yi in 764 AD.  This draft letter is famous for the caoshu calligraphy and is learnt by younger calligraphers as the “争座位帖” (Zheng Zuo Wei Tie – The Struggle For a Seat).   In this letter of criticism  towards the general, the calligrapher concentrate more on his wording and thoughts rather than the calligraphy itself, however his emotion was naturally expressed in the strokes.

… 岂不以才为世出,功冠一时。挫思明跋扈之师,抗回纥无(?)之请,故得身凌烟之阁,名藏太室之庭,吁足畏也!然美则美矣,而终之始难。故曰:满而不溢,所以长守富也,高而不危,所以长守贵也,可不儆惧乎?!…

Having a portrait at the hall of fame, the name recorded in palace

From the book of  “Xiao Jing” (Classic of Filial Piety)
孝经 – “高而不危,所以长守贵也。
Dwelling on high but without peril, nobility can be preserved.
Being affluent but not wasteful, wealth can be preserved.

From the book of (Chinese Code of Success, a classic and not one of those self help book)
朱子治家格言 – “讀書志在聖賢,(非徒科第);為官心存君國,(豈計身家)?”
To study with the aspiration to be a man of virtue (and not for official ranking).
An official ought to have the interests of the Emperor and the nation at heart (and not his own pocket).


W90xL120mm, China

In the old days,  needles are precious items that a girl would keep as part of  her possession. In the days before the $10 budget store when one will just get a new set instead of looking for the one you already have.  As needlework is part of any girls’ qualification, they would make their own pin holder, decorated with embroidery, patchwork, etc.

This is a pin holder in the shape of a dog.  

Clay wall hangerW200xH250xD50mm, China

This clay wall hanger is the form of a tiger, it offers protection from the evils.  In the rural area of Shaan Xi, before Chinese New Year every household would would be placed a new tiger hanger on the lintel of the door.  The origin of the wall hanger came from the Ground Theatre (Di Xi), find any similarity?

pottery birdsW200xD150xH270mm, China

A delicate figurine of two pica pica (magpie) on a blossoming plum tree.  The subject, a symbol of blessing, is often seen in painting, pottery and carvings; for the Chinese, the pica pica is bird of luck while the plum tree signified happiness, joy, peace, longevity and success.   Here is a story about this lucky bird, in the Tong dynasty there was a man named Li Jing Yi.  Outside Li’s house there was a pica pica nest on a tree, everyday he would feed the bird, after a while the bounding between the bird and Li grew.  One day, out of the blue Li was arrested for a crime he did not commit, when he was most helpless in jail the pica pica came visited him and sang at the window for a long time.  His was relieved by the bird’s visit and 3 days later, the good news about his release came.  It is believed the bird can transformed as a imperial guard with the notice for his release.  Since then, the pica pica is associated with the bearer of good news.

garudaW250xD80xH220mm, Tibet

The Garuda is a mystical bird who appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythologies.  An ancient symbol of the Hindu sun, Garuda is the vehicle of the god Vishnu and his wife.  He has the golden body of a man, white face with an eagle’s beak,a pair of red wings, two horns, a crown on his head and eats naga (snakes) for a meal.  In Buddhism, he is the vehicle of Vajrapani and the symbol of the transcendent Buddha Amoghasiddhi.  In Tibetan Buddhism, Garuda fuses with the mythical Himalayan Khyung bird of fire and became a god both for Bon (ancient Tibetan religion) and Tibetan Buddism.

In the Tibetan legend, Garuda stole a jewel from Naga king of Mount Meru, he carefully swallow the jewel and later vomited out.  (The jewel is on the crown of this figurine).  It seems no coincident the Tibetan rememdy for snake bite is the vomit of the eagle.


8 immortalsDIA165mm, China

The figurines on this necklace used to be the ornaments of a child’s hat.  A special hat would be made for the child’s birth, 100 days celebration and the first birthday.  The hat is seen as a blessing for the child, depending on the gender, family social status, the design of the hat varies.

The gold plated enamel ornaments would have belongs to a hat of a wealth family.  The 9 figurines are the 8 Immortals (one either side) + the god of Longevity (in the middle).  The 8 Immortals are; Iron-Crutch Tie Guai Li, Philosopher Han Xiang Zi, Elder Zhang Guo Lao, Lan Cai He, Immortal Woman He Zian Gu, Leader Lu Dong Bin, Han Zhong Li and Royal Uncle Cao Guo Jiu, they are Taoist saints who are not very powerful and have a few human frailties.  One of the many stories of the 8 Immortals is about their birthday wishes for the Queen Mother of the West and thus the appearance is associated with birthdays and blessings.

Here is a clip from the Xiang opera “8 Immortals birthday wishes for the Queen Mother of the West”

 Collectible Jewellery
Something Old Something New

jade hair piece

DIA165mm, China

 The pendent for this necklace is a jade head piece.

The idea of a head gear comb developed very early in China; the word “beauty” 美 came from a goat 羊 hat over a dancing man 大 (a man 人 with his hands extended).  The concept of head gear developed into a social etiquette,  a complete system was formed for ranking of officials, classes and for different occasions.  When a young noble male reaches the age of 20,  there will be a crowning ceremony, signifying the change from a boy to a man.

Some head pieces are secured on the hair bundle rather than as worn as a hat and this pendant is one of them.


silver brooch

W90xH70mm, Hong Kong

This smart silver brooch is made from an original kirin boy pendant, a blessing pendant for the child.  Legend had it that the kirin delivered the baby Confucius to  his parents; by putting on the figurine of the kirin boy, the parents hope that their child will also turn out to be as bright as the scholar Confucius.



DIA165mm, China


This is a coral necklace, but dont they just look like red hot chilli?


DIA165mm, Hong Kong

A simple necklace with a handmade millefiori bead.  The making of a millefiori bead is though not as simple …


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