Search results for: "yang"

lacquer trayDIA330xH80mm, China

A lacquer tray decorated with picture of a scene from the Beijing opera “Tai Jun Ci Cao”.  The story is about the famous Yang family of warriors.

First some background to the story; Commander Lord Yang,  his wife She Sai Hua and their 7 sons was defending the North Han country against the Sung.  Though the Sung army is the stronger one, the Yang’s family out smarted them, the Sung General Pan was shot by Lady’s She’s arrow and had to retreat.  Failing with the attack, the Sung emperor spread rumors about Lord Yang which had the suspicious North Han emperor distrust Yang’s advice and was defeated utterly.  After the victory, the Sung emperor took Lord Yang under his wing and made him a trusted official, General Pan was very jealous of this promotion.

The Liao country start attacking Sung, Lord Yang and his sons was defending Sung at the border.  Yang’s army was out numbered, 3 of his sons were killed in action, he send his 7th son to get reinforcement but was secretly killed by Pan.  Lord Yang was captured and one of his son was captured, Lord Yong committed suicide to avoid being used as a hostage while his son was selected by the Liao Princess to be her husband.  The 5th son was tired of all the fighting and the politics became a monk.  The 6th son managed to escape and returned to the Sung capital and became the commander in place of his father but was later killed in action.

The opera story on the lacquer dish appear at this point, the Sung emperor asked the Yang family to led the fight with the Liao.  With all the males gone, here is only Lady She (now in her 70s), 2 daughters, the daughter in laws and young grandson left in the family.  Lady She, the commander with the female warriors led the army to victory.  When they return safety home, Lady She after losing all her sons fearing that her only grandson too would eventually die in battle ask the Emperor to allow the family to leave their duty as the commanders.


yang liu qingL1140xH660mm, China

This Yang Liu Qing print is about the story “Wenji Reurning to Han”.

Wenji, was the daughter of the scholar Cai Yong, equally well learnt she was tributed to have revived some important ancient literature that was lost during the war.  Wenji though has a rather tough life; her first husband Wei passed away and during the war she was kidnapped by the Huns tribe and made to be the queen of the Hun king.  The king treated her well, they had children and soon Wenji though missing home was well settled in Hun.

Meanwhile her father Cai Yong was jailed and died for his support of a declined politician.  The story would have ended here if  emperor Cao Cao has not suddenly missed his friend Cai Yong and thought of his daughter.  Emperor Cao requested for her return to Han, though unwilling the Hun king dared not disobey and reluctantly send the mother of his child home to Han.  Feeling the sorrow as she departed her Hun family, Wenji wrote the poem “Eighteen Stanzas for a Barbarian Reed Leaf Pipe”

Happy to see her, Emperor Cao Cao felt bad that she is all alone and without a family so he arranged for her to be wedded to an official named Dong.  Unfortunately, Dong committed some crime and received a death sentence.  Wenji fearing she will lose yet another husband went to see Cao Cao and begged for his pardon.  Moved by her action, Cao Cao ordered for Dong’s release and chatted with her about her father’s literature.  Wenji told him that all the 4000 odd books were destroyed during the war but she could still recite 400 out of the 4000. Cao Cao was excited to record the lost literature and Wenji wrote them down word for word.

Click here to see our other Yang Liu Qing prints.

Yang Liu Qing

W1150xH670mm, China

This old Yang Liu Qing print, depicted a scene from a Tang dynasty poem, 商山早行 Morning Journey At Shang Shan.


After a restless night thinking of my home town, I woke up with the hurrying bells of the inn.
The rooster crow at the frailing moon, on the frost cover bridge left the footprints of the travelers.
The down hill road is covered by wilting plants, orange flower shines out on the inn wall.
Seeing the sunrise, I thought of my dreams of ansers returning to the pond, maybe too I can see my family soon.

The people on the print, however, described another story;

人家骑马我骑驴,回头再看推车汉,比上不足 比下有余!

I ride a donkey and look up to those who ride a horse, but looking at the cart pusher I feel content.

indonesian puppet

W150xD150xH550mm, Indonesia

Wayang golek is the traditional West Javanese performance of the wooden rod puppet.

Here is a wonderful documentary about the Wayang golek.

The character of this puppet is Abhimanyu, the tragic hero in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.  Son of Arjuna and Subhadra, like his father he was both courageous and a good fighter.  Abhimanyu’s education of becoming a warrior started when he was still in womb of  Subhadra, his father would go through in length different battle formation.  Unfortunately at Subhadra has fallen asleep when it came to the exiting of Chakravyuha and Abhimanyu failed to gain the knowledge and there on the 13th day of the battle he was killed.

Come to see the Asian Folkcraft Collection!

W700xH1100mm, China

This is a Chinese new year print of the famous yang liu qing school, different from the new year print from other areas / schools, the yang liu qing prints combined the art of printing and painting in one.  Lines for the painting are first carved out from a piece of wood, black water base ink is then applied on the wood block and printed onto the paper by rubbing.  Once there is a sharp outline of the image, water base colour is then applied, giving varies tones of colour to the print.  Then a thick powder colour is used to give all the details to the painting.  The yang liu qing school began at the end of the Ming dynasty; it brought on the tradition of detail painting of the Sung dynasty and combined it with the printing technique popular in the Ming dynasty giving it an unique appearance.

This print is one print of a pair of door gods (traditional doors in China always comes in pairs), Qin Qiong, the other door will be of  Wei Chi Gong.  The legend of the 2 door gods goes like this; during the Tang dynasty an old dragon made a bet with a fortune teller and violated the law of the heaven.  As a punishment the supreme god Jade Emperor ordered Wei Zheng to have it killed at noon the next day.   Hearing the news, the old dragon went to see the Tang Emperor and begged him to help him, the Tang Emperor agreed.  The next day the Tang Emperor summon Wei Zheng to court and asked him to play a game of Chinese chess with him, hoping that if the game is long enough he will miss the noon execution.  During the long game Wei Zheng dosed off and in his dream he went to kill the dragon.  Not knowing the whole story,  the ghost of the dragon felt bitter that the Tang Emperor did not keep his words and came to haunt the court everyday.  Wei Zheng found out and send 2 generals, Qin Qiong and Wei Chi Gong, to guard the gate of the palace and this scared off the dragon.  The Tang Emperor felt bad that the 2 generals do not get a break and asked artists to make a painting of them to be put on the doors, and this seems to have the same effects, the rumor spread and now the door gods are all over China.

L770xW300xH120mm, China

The Yangqin is Chinese hammered dulcimer, however, the original  instrument was imported from Persia in the Ming dynasty (around 1580).  A similar instrument was very popular in Europe during the 14th century which later inspired the invention of the harpsichord, clavichord, piano forte, and eventually the piano.  There are many different types of Yangquin, the one we have here is a Butterfly Yangqin which is similar to the origin version, it is smaller and only has 2 bridges.  Its sound range is limited to the natural note (the sound from the white keys of the piano).  This yangqin has a lacquered box with beautifully gold painting of the 8 Saints, the instrument  is a bit worn out and would require some fixing and tuning before it can be played.  The instrument was made the the Guangdong Ya Yun Leu.

Performance of the Ode to Yellow River with the Yangqin

Same piece performed on the piano by Lang Lang

L800xW60mm, Hong Kong

This is the famous “White Bone Yin Yang Sword” which I believe belonged to my cousin.  It was made at the time when fathers would still make toys for the kids then giving them psp, ipad or nds.  The sword is based on the one in the movie “White Bone Yin Yang Sword” staring the teen idol Connie Chan Po Chu.  I am sure many of you would have the Lightsaber, the Star War version of the handmade toy.


W550 X H330mm, Chinese

Today you might have heard of Li Kai Shing or Jack Ma but first wealthiest man recorded in China history is Shen Wan San of the Ming dynasty.  It is believed that his wealth has came from a treasure tray.  One of the stories go like this; one day fisherman Shen got a large golden fish, the fish plead for its life.  Shen let it goes and since then he had great harvest on every net and not only that, he netted a magic tray.  One day, he accidentally dropped his ring inside the tray, when he tried to fish it out that came not one but numerous identical rings.  Realizing that this is a magic tray, Shen accumulated a lot of wealth but instead of using it all on himself, he contributed it to improving his village.  Years later, the embankment of the Yangtze River collapsed causing flooding to nearby town and villages.  The emperor offered award the people who can stopped the flooding with a high position in the court, so Shen took the tray and went to see the emperor with the condition that the tray is to be returned after the problem is fixed.  With the soil the tray generated, the embankment was fixed instantly, the happy Shen went to collect his tray.  However, by now the emperor has seen the power of the tray, he had Shan arrested on the charge that all treasures belonged to the emperor and had Shan hanged for keeping the magic tray to himself.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition



W270 X H400mm, China

This pair of wood block print is not about blessings but scene from a opera story “Return to Jing Zhou”, set in the 3 Kingdom Period.
Click here for the full story about Return to Jing Zhou and a print from the Yangliuqing school of the same theme.

What is interesting about this print is the carving, 明正德九年雍山老人藏板 (stamp collected by old man of Yongshan in the year 1515 of the Ming dynasty) on the stamp.  It is unlikely that the prints were made by the stamp collected in Ming dynasty but from a duplication of it.  What these prints offer is a glimpse of the opera in the Ming dynasty and are often refer to in the historical theater research.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition



W260 X H350mm, China

After the description from yesterday’s post, would you be able to tell whom these Gods are?

The two prints are of the same theme, Fu shou and Xi (Blessing, longevity and happiness).  This particular print is from the school of Zhuxian which are characterized by bolder lines, vivid colours and more dramatic composition.  The school of Zhuxian is recognized as one of the 4 main schools of Chinese wood block printing.  The print from yesterday’s post with finer lines, more detail description and paler colours are from Yangjiabu school, one of the most popular school in the Ming and Qing dynasty.

It is interesting to compare two prints of the same theme and see how the artisan depicts the prints, almost like saying the same phrase with two different dialect.

Come to see the actual print and many others at the
New Year Print Exhibition


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