Archives for posts with tag: intellectual

plateDIA160mm, China

On the plate is painted 3 generation of scholars, the well learnt elderly man, the established and the scholar to be.  Behind them are a selection of scholarly objects and collectibles; scrolls of painting and calligraphy, stationary, books and root sculptures.  On the side of the plate is the phrase “knowledge with no cliff”, meaning knowledge is so board that it is like an ocean without an edge.

This phrase is well learnt by most young students, as an encouragement for acquiring knowledge.  The phrase came from the late Ming well known writer Zhang Di who was born in a wealthy intellectual family.  Well learnt, he indulges in decadent love of beauty; pretty maid, handsome serving boys, fashion, gourmet, elegant horse, glamour, crowds, painting, antiques, etc, etc.  The life style and the political situation made him a poor man at later years, he found himself failure in all counts.  This however, made his writing all the more powerful.

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H300x W190mm, China

The fisherman is one of the fundamental role in old agricultural based China.  Fisherman, wood cutter, farmer and intellectual are the four main roles; they have been the theme for many artworks, in fact, the 4 are a collective noun “yu qiao geng dou”.  Yu refers to the fisherman, yan zi ling, Yan was a classmate of the first emperor of the East Han dynasty.  Despite numerous invitation to become an government official, he declined and remained  a fisherman until old age.  Qiao, was the wood cutter Zhu Mai Chen, a high official of the Han dynasty.  Zhu love reading, from a poor family he was in such poverty that even his wife left him but for his determination he was recognized.   Geng, farming, is Emperor Shun (the legendary second emperor, 1700BC) teaching his people how to farm.  Dou, the intellectual, is Su Qin, the hardworking scholar who would use an awl to pitch himself if he has fallen asleep at his study.  The phase “yu qiao geng dou” not only recognized the 4 roles being fundamental, it also projected a desire of the rural commoners to become the part of the officials.

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.