Archives for posts with tag: ao fish

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.

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.