Archives for posts with tag: bird

golden wood carvingL300xD45xH65mm, China

The composition of plum blossom and bird is a popular theme for Chinese crafts.

Not only it this a yearly event when the birds come to party and feast when the plum blossom, it also has a symbolic meaning.  A play on the phase 喜上眉梢 (xi shang mei shao), one is so happy that joy is expressed when in the eye brow.  You might wonder what a facial express has to do with plum blossom and bird.  The bird is 喜鵲 pica pica (magpie), its climbing on the plum branch 喜上梅梢 (xi shang mei que) has the same pronunciation has this uncontrollable joy.


pearl boxD160xL280xH80mm, China

A box for the precious objects, decorated with mother of pearl inlay describing a scene of plum blossom and playful birds.  The theme of plum blossom and birds often appears in jewelry, paintings and pottery, symbolizing the beginning of a new year (click to see our other items of the same theme).

pearl box

bird cageW210xD210xH220mm, China

Birdcages from China can be classified broadly into the northern and the southern type.  This distinction by region can also be seen in the shape of the cages as well; northern birdcages are typically circular with a flat top, known as the Tianjin style, the southern types are cubic in shape with the bottom slightly larger than the top, known as the Suzhou style.  Suzhou is a province with Gangnam, so I guess we can say this is Gangnam Style.

In the old days birds are probably a more common pet for the Chinese than dogs and cats (who has a duty to guard or to catch mice), birds are there just for appreciation.  The birdcages are the habitat, carrier as well as the stage for the birds.  Their light mobility provide the bird with different settings; on the table, hang on the beam, on tree, transported to the teahouse of the park to meet other birds, etc, etc.

A very  sweet film about a bird, though it is cage it is not held captive.  The fledgling was found fallen off its nest and its feather was damaged, unable to fly.  For a few days it was kept in a birdcage for the feather to recover, as if the intention has been understood, the mother came constantly to feed her young in the cage.  Then second video is when the bird was released and successfully flew.

bird necklacebird


DIA200mm, China

The pendant of this necklace is the partridge, “Chun”, the Chinese believes that this special bird comes from the same family as the Phoenix.  Looking at the video … its probably a very very distant cousin …

The “Chun” first made its name in the Warring State period as a gourmet dish, by the Tang dyansty it is used in bird fighting.  It made its name by the Sung dynasty as a popular subject for painting.  One might wonder with its physique managed a place  in the subject of the art world.  It has to do with the word “Chun” sounds like “An” which means peace, ease and together with the other elements in the painting symbolizes longevity, settle, etc.  The subject matter extended from Sung dyansty all the way to the Qing dynasty.


W500xL450xH500mm, Philippines

This is the mystical chicken from Mindanao of the Philippines, a predominantly Muslim island in the south.  In Islamic legend, the prophet Mudammed found a bird in the first of the 7 heaven, the bird is so large that its crest touches the second heaven.  Its crow would arouse all creatures except humans and judgement day would arrive when the crowing stop.

The word “sari” means colour / garment, “manok” means chicken.  This is expressed clearly in the sculpture which is a symbol of blessing.

The Maranao believes Sarimanok is a totem bird called Itotoro which has a twin bird called Inikadowa.  Inikadowa is a spirit bird that is unseen and through Itotoro as a medium, one can access the spirit world.


W450xH600mm, China

This is a glass painting of a pair of  Lady Amherst’s pheasant (Chrysolophus amherstiae) which are native to south western China and north eastern part of Myanmar.  For the Chinese, the Lady Amherst’s pheasant is a noble bird.  At the time of monarchy the Empress, being the highest ranking second only to the Emperor, would have phoenix as a pattern.  For the first ranking official, their costume would have a red crown crane, while the second ranking official the Lady Amherst’s pheasant.  The third ranking, the green peafowl and the fifth the silver pheasant, the eighth being the quail.

W970xL970mm, China

This is one of our baby carrier turn cushion cover series
(x-stitch, patchwork, x-stitch).

Many years ago on one of the shopping trips to Gui Zhou, mother was on a bus when she saw this baby carrier.  The baby carrier was not in a shop but carry a baby on the back of a woman.  Falling in love with the unusual design mother jumped out of the bus and ran to find the woman with the baby.  On closer look, the pattern looked even better, the colour are bright and the design abstract and modern.  Mother begged the lady to sell the carrier to her so she can use it as a sample.  The lady was very reluctant, as the baby carrier is believed to be an amulet for the child, protecting him throughout his life.  After much persuasion here we are – a pattern of birds with flower!

DIA250mm, China

The composition of this plate of the bird and the plum blossom which gave the plate its name – plum & bird plate.  The theme of bird and plum tree can be found on painting, pottery, jewellery, stationary, etc.  The pair sometimes are fighting for the attention of spring and sometimes delivering good news, they are often seen together.  Plum tree blossoms in the spring time, a start of a new year, both a sense of joy and happiness.  The bird, pica pica, is a special bird, according to the Chinese “Book of Birds” (around 500B.C.), the pica pica is capable of telling the weather – “If it sings with its head upwards it will be sunny, if it cries with its head facing down it will rain, people will be happy just listening to it sing”.  Looking at the plate, it seems weather will be good tomorrow, have a nice day everyone!

Though it is not a pica pica (magpie) and it didnt sing, nevertheless its a nice clip.

W130xD50xH230mm, China

This figurine is a Shou Shan stone carving, the Shou Shan stone is famous for its wealth of colours, the artist would made use of the colour to form the composition of the carving work, all the carvings are one off piece of artwork.

The warrior of this carving is riding on a Kirin (yes, its the same mythical creature as on the beer can) with bats accompanying them.  The Kirin (together with the Phenoix, the turtle and the dragon) is believed by the Chinese to be one of the four old saintly creatures.  Its a creature of heaven and not of the earth, those that were captured by the gods became their carriage (as on this figurine).  The Kirin has the head of a dragon, horns of a deer, eyes of a lion, the body of a tiger, the scale of fish, but despite this fierce appearance it is a kind creature and believe to an animal of blessing.  As for the bats, they are also a symbol of blessing for the Chinese but as we all know what they look like I wont go into details in this post.

Here is a story about the bat and the kirin from the Ming dynasty which i find quite amusing; one day the Phoenix held a birthday party, as she was the queen of the birds all the birds from everywhere came to wish her happy birthday.  The bat, however, did not show up.  The Phoenix, being the queen, was not please at all, so she summoned for the bat and asked, “you live under my rule, where are you so arrogant and did not come when invited?”  The bat answered, “I have craws, I am a beast, why should I pay my respect to a bird?”  Then the Kirin held his birthday party and the bat did not show up, the Kirin was angry and condemned the bat, the bat answered, “I have wings, a bird, why should I come to a beast party?”  Then the Phoenix and the Kirin met up and of course the bat incident came up in their conservation, “what a world this is coming to that there is such non bird non beast creature, how frustration is that.”  As time moves on from the Ming Dynasty, I feel that the bats now would claim to be a bird in front of the Phoenix and a beast in front of the Kirin, a fence sitter in all sense.

W300xH300mm, China

This is the head piece for Chinese opera, a crown used by the female warrior character, resembling the fighter’s helmet.  It has one layer of pompons and thus known as word one crown (the chinese word for one is 一, a simple horizontal line)

Due to the age of this piece, some of its tassels and a few of the pompons have gone missing.  The blue ornaments on the head piece are made from kingfisher feathers, tian tsui, a precious material.  The kingfisher bird has an amazing blue colour, however the intense colour is not from the pigment of the feather but from the reflection of the light.  Each piece of feather is painstakingly cut and inlay onto a metal gilt.   A relatively thin sheet of precious metal (gold or silver) is formed, gold or silver wires are bent according to the design and placed on the edge of this area, then small pieces of the feather is glued into the recess area.

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