Search results for: "zhuang yuan"

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W560x H340mm, China

In old China, society is generally organised by different class, it would be extremely difficult to excel beyond where one is set to belong.  In the Siu dynasty, a system for selecting a top official post was introduced.  By way of a series of literature examinations, unlimited by one’s background the best is chosen purely from his knowledge.  The scholar who comes first in the examination is known as the Zhuang Yuan and would be appointed directly by the emperor.  It therefore became every parents’ dream for their son to become the Zhuang Yuan. After his appointment the Zhuang Yuan would parade from the capital all the way home.  The villagers are proud to welcome the scholar home, in fact so proud that the alley where he used lived would be renamed.  In this print, the gate on the left is known as “Zhuang Yuan Place”.  In front of the gate, leading the parade are two soldiers bang on the gongs and carrying the banner 状元及第 “Zhuang Yuan Ji Di” (the new title of the scholar) and 連中三元 (coming first in all three exams).  Behind them, the two men with flower decorated hats are the Zhuang Yuan and the one in armor the military Zhuang Yuan (who came first in martial art).  What more can one wish for if a family can have 3 sons all to become Zhuang Yuan!  On the sky, there is a ghostly figurine, he is Kui Xing, the saint in charge of who becomes Zhuang Yuan.

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

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wood carving

W70xD50xH140mm, China

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.

wood carving

Click here to see a embroidery version of this theme and below is a puppet version.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADIA140mm, China

This delicate gold plated carving used to be a hat decoration.  Until the Qing dynasty hat was seen as a status symbol, worn by only the Emperor and the high ranking officials, commoners are forbidden to wear hats and usual tie their hair with a piece of cloth.  It was until the Qing dynasty that hats became an item for all, though their style and details are still well defined by the social levels.  On its hundredth day birthday, a baby would be given a hat which is constructed a bit like the beach ball, bind by 6 equal wedges of cloth.  The 6s represented the sky, the earth and the four directions.  On this hat a decorative ornament would be place over the forehead, an ornament of good wishes; the eight immortals, longevity, luo han, etc.

This particular decoration has the theme of a Zhuang Yuan, the scholar who came top in the examination.
A wish for scholarly, prosperity, loyalty to the country, everything parents would wish for their child.

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W140xD30xH270mm, China

This is a wood carving based on a scene from the romantic comedy “The Story of the Western Wing”.  It has nothing to do with the White House but a play set in the Tang dynasty about a young couple pursuing with their love for each other without the consent of their parents.  In the old days, marriage are arranged by the parents with the husband and wife to be never meeting each other before the day of the wedding.  Love affairs outside of this arrangement are forbidden and are seen as dishonoring to the family name.

In the scene depicted, the chamber maid, Hong Niang, was caught assisting Cui Ying Ying, the daughter of the chief minister, in seeing the young scholar staying in the western wing of the house.  The lady of the house interrogated Hong Niang with her daughter Cui Ying Ying hidding behind the screen.  In the end the family consented an official marriage on the condition that the young scholar Zhang Sheng would come top in the national official examination (a very difficult task).  Zhang Sheng passed the exam with flying colours, became the zhuang yuan, married Cui Ying Ying and lived happily ever after.

embroidery

DIA190mm, China

This embroidery is taken from a traditional Chinese under garment, the du dou, a garment that is made by the mother for the child as an extension of love and blessing.  The design of this embroidery showed the well wishes of the mother, the hope that her child would become a zhuang yuan, the scholar who came first in the official examination.  Since the Siu dynasty, the imperial court has set up a system of examination to find the best scholar to take up an imperial post.  This is perhaps the only way to promote one’s status in a hereditary society.

In the embroidery, there is the zhuang yuan holding a bamboo while stepping on head of the Ao fish.  獨占鰲頭, occupying the head of the so fish alone, is a symbol of being the zhuang yuan for during the ceremony with the emperor the zhuang yuan will be standing on the head of a stone carving of the ao fish.

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W360xD190XH360mm, China

This fine lacquered cabinet was a household shrine for worshiping the ancestors in the Chaozhou area.  Ancestral tablets would be kept inside of the cabinets, with the higher ranking ancestor on the upper stage and the others on the lower level.  The decoration of the exterior of the doors are blessing figures of warriors and top scholars (zhuang yuan) while in the interior are scholarly plants, all a blessing for the descendants of the family.

The ancestral tablets are made of word with the name of the ancestor.  The legend goes like this; a long time ago there lived a poor widow and her son.  The son was a brute, abusive to the mother verbally and sometimes even physically, but the mother took care of him all the same.  One day, while the son was collecting logs in the mountain he saw a mother bird busy looking for food to feed her young, so tired is the bird that she collapsed in the nest after feeding the nestling.  Seeing this the young man realized he had been wrong of how he had treated his mother and felt terrible.  Right about the same time, his mother arrived with his lunch, the young man hurried to greet his mother.  Not knowing his intention, the mother told she would get another beating, she put down the food and started to run down the hill.  The son yelled behind her and the mother hurried, tripped, hit a tree and died.  Unable to tell his mother how sorry he had been, he took a piece of the tree, wrote on it his mother’s name and worship it on her birthday.  The character of the son changed and became a very successful man and the idea of ancestral tablets were adopted by others.

worship cabinet

W100xD100xH300mm, China

This is a figurine of Kui Xing, a well respected figure amonst the Confucius intellectuals, he is believed to have the power to control the fate of all literature.  The legend has it that before being a god, Kui Xing was a scholar who took the Zhuang Yuan examination 3 times but failed, it was not because of his intellect but his ugly appearance.   Furious and frustrated, he kicked the box that held his books, jumped into the river and committed suicide … those were the days before we have plastic surgery …  Despite not being recognized officially by the court for his literary skills, his intellect was well acknowledged by the commoners, figurines of him were made for getting his blessing in examinations.  On the figurine he held a brush and ink, he is believed to write down the names of those who will success in the examination.  Under his feet is an Ao fish, a creature with a fish head a dragon body, a step carving outside of the palace where the Zhuang Yuan (the person who came top of the exam) will stand to wait for the emperor’s blessing.

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.

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