Archives for category: figurine

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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.

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W160xL380xH250mm, China

Ceramic pillows have long been used by the Chinese, offering the pleasure of a coolness in those hot summer nights.

They became most popular in the Tang dynasty when the technique of firing has reached a certain height and pottery becomes available to the masses.  Different forms and style were made and the children theme was one of them.  This particular pillow is known as the “hai er zhen” and was made by the famous kiln in the South of China, Ci Zhou kiln, which is characterized by the descriptive black strokes on white clay or vice versa.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAW40xL80xH110mm, China

This lion riding figue is Wei Chi Gong, a general of the Tang dynasty.  Stories of his loyalty and bravery made it to the hearts of the people that he became a protector for the home, prints and figurines were made of him and his partner Qin Qiong.

Legends has it that in the Tang dynasty, the Dragon King had a bet with a fortune teller, this act violated the rules of the heaven and Jade Emperor ordered for the dragon’s execution.  The Dragon King pledged with the Tang Emperor and the Emperor agreed to summon the executioner back to court so the dragon could be spare.  Unfortunately, the Emperor doses off and missed the hour, the dragon was cut in half and died.  The dragon was extremely upset that the promise was broken and its ghost haunted the imperial palace day and night.  Wei Chi Gong and Qin Qiong, the two brave generals offered to stand guard at the door of the palace, the dragon ghost was kept at bay.  The emperor felt guilty that the pair has to be on guard days and nights because of his own negligence and ordered prints and figurines to be made of the two so to spare them from their task.  The fame of the two generals is so powerful that their imagery would be enough to scare away the haunted dragon, since then they were used to guard doors, gateways, bed in the household.

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W45xH90mm, China

This is a glove puppet head for the character Guan Yu.

One of the heros in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Guan Yu was the loyal general of the warlord Lui Bei.  With the help of Guan, Lui Bei later formed the Han Dynasty and unified China.

Guan Yu is portrayed with having a red face, 9 feet tall with a 2 feet long beard and eyes of a pheonix.  A powerful and masculine figure.  Aside from his bravery, Guan Yu is known for his loyalty.

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W120xD120xH300mm, China

Master 7 and Master 8 comes in a pair, 7 tall and white, 8 shorta and black .  Master 7&8 (aka the Black and white Supernaturals) are probably the most horrifying members of the underworld as they are guards from hell who also execute punishment for the dead.  Master 7 is known as  Xie Bi An, Master 8 Fan Wu Jiu, the two were close friends who worked as guards for a small court.  One day the prisoner they were escorting managed to escaped.  They went their separate ways to search for the fugitive and agreed to meet back at the embankment by the bridge at a certain hour.  It rained hard and didnt stop, Xie (8) didnt manage to get to the embankment in time while Fan (7) waited.  Fan saw the water level on the river raise, started to flood but remain there, he didnt want his friend to think that he has deserted him and left Xie to take the blame of losing the prisoner.  When Xie got there, the river has flooded, Fan being a shorty got drowned.  Xie was upset with himself, he was too tall to drown himself, so he found a tree and hang himself, finally making the appointment with Fan in the underworld.  The Jade Emperor was impressed by the loyalty the two has shown and made them the Generals of Hell.

On the night of the Halloween when all the ghosts are about, perhaps Master 7 and 8 would get a day off from their tasks as well.

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W170xD60xH130mm, China

“Child from the Saints” is a popular blessing subject in the Ming and Qing period, symbolizing blessing and fertility.  The legend dated back to the late Han dynasty, when the Wei Emperor to be was a poor farmer.  One spring, when he was working in the field, he saw a immaculate carriage landed from the sky, inside of the carriage was a beautiful lady.  He put away his tools and went to greet the visitor, the lady told him she is send by the Jade Emperor to be his wife, the two got married on the day, the lady saint said she has to go back to heaven and would meet him again a year later at the same place.  A year later, Wei arrived early to the field awaiting for his date, the magic carriage appeared, inside it was the lady saint together with a baby.  She handed him the baby and said he was his son and he will be the Emperor.

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W50xL140xH100mm, China

An old clay toy, of a cute rooster.

Dont belittle the rooster, it was the earliest form of time keeping, announcing to the world the start of a new day.  With its ability to bring the sun out and to make the night retreat (a bit of a reverse logic), the Chinese thus believe that the rooster is able to keep the devil away.

Click for our other clay rooster toy and other clay toys.

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W100xH320mm, China

Before the arrival of the internet, tv, moving pictures, the shadow puppets are the closest to an animated reality.  It has been said that concept of shadow puppet came some 2000 years ago in the Han dynasty.  The Han emperor was extremely depressed after the death of the Empress and was unable to the ruling of the country.  Advisor Li who has been devoted to the Emperor was deeply concerned, one afternoon in the street he saw a kid playing with a doll, it was the movement of the shadow that had captivated him.  Li used cotton to made the features of the Empress, supported the arms and legs on rod, with a candle behind, a screen was placed in front of the mannequin.  The Emperor came into the tent one evening and saw his beloved Empress once again.

This shadow puppet is a Xiao Sheng character, playing roles that are young handsome, well learnt scholar and usually matched by a beautiful diva Dan role.

Click here to see more of our shadow puppets.

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W45xH90mm, China

This puppet head is the General Deng Ai of the 3 Kingdom period (197-264 AD).  The story “Tan Shan Gu” has been made into opera and puppet theater.  At the time, China was divided into 3 kingdoms, General Deng was defending the Wei kingdom against the attack of the General Jiang Wei of the Shu kingdom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAW50xD40xH140mm, Hong Kong

This figurine belonged to the Tanka tribe, a group who lived on junks by the bay and fish for a living.  In the Guangdong area, it said that their junks used to be tied together which stretches a mile long.  As time goes by, with development along the coastline, better living offer on land, most and almost all of the junks have disappeared.

This is an ancestor figurine of a middle ranking female, the crane symbolizes a departure from this world like the saints.