Archives for posts with tag: opera

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L300xW300mm, China

The composition of the embroidery is based on a scene in the Beijing Opera – Return to Jing Zhou.

The story was set in the 3 Kingdoms Period,

WEI – led by East Han chancellor Cao Cao, adviser Sima Yi
WU – led by Sun Quan, adviser Zhou Yu
SHU – led by Liu Bei, general Guan Yu, Zhang Fei and Zhao Yun, adviser Zhu Ge Liang

Sun Quan and Zhou Yu (WU) set up a plan to get Liu Bei (SHU) to hand over his strong hold Jing Zhou.  Sun Quan has a beautiful sister, to lure Liu into the trap, he proposed to Liu Bei for a marriage to his sister, a union of the 2 kingdoms. Liu Bei in return would have to go to WU for the wedding.  This is a proposal Liu Bei cannot lightly turn down for the sake of his kingdom.  Sun Quan however has no real intention of marrying his sister to his enemy, he would wanted to capture Liu Bei and and force him to hand over his kingdom.  Luckily before Liu Bei’s departure, his wizard adviser Zhu Ge Liang see through the trick and handed 3 notes to Zhao Yun and asked him to escort Liu Bei to Wu.  When Liu Bei crossed to Wu he opened the first note, it asked Liu Bei to visit the father in law of Sun Quan.  Impressed by Liu Bei and thinking that a union of the 2 kingdoms is a good idea from Sun Quan, the in law asked for Sun Quan’s mother for her approval for the marriage.  The empress dowager agreed and the marriage went ahead.  Sun Quan found out he has lost his sister, set out to detained Liu Bei in Wu.  Liu Bei opened the second note, it asked for a faked report that Jing Zhou was being attacked by now their common enemy Cao Cao (WEI).  Having a great excuse, Liu Bei together with his newly married wife and his men left Wu for Jing Zhou.  Sun Quan found out and had his general went after them.  Liu Bei then opened his third note, in the note it asked him to leave the defense to his wife.  Now in love with Liu Bei, the princess gave the general a hard time and refused to return to Wu.  When Liu Bei returned to Jing Zhou, Sun Quan’s army was confronted by Liu Bei’s general Zhang Fei and badly defeated.

A common Chinese phrase came from the story, 賠了夫人又摺兵 (not only losing the girl but the battle as well) – something similar to the phrase “throw the helve after the hatchet”.

Click here to see our wood block prints which also depicted the same opera.

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W420 X H550mm, China

 A pair of two wood block prints which will be featured in today and tomorrow’s post, tells a story based on the Shandong opera.

Student Wang made a gamble with the other students while the teacher was away.  With his bad luck, Wang loses at every game and was heavily in debt.  He knew he would get into trouble is he asked his family for help and was trouble all the time.  Wang’s fiancee, Chun (second right figure on upper print) learnt about the news and gave her bridal gown to Wang so it can be sold off.

The second scene appears in the lower print; the village bully Li (far right figure) was attracted by the beauty of Chun and decided to accuse Wang (far left) for stealing the precious gown.  Li’s plan is to send Wang off to jail and he can have Chun.

To find out the ending of the story, watch out for tomorrow’s post.

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

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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 W550 X H390mm, China

 A famous scene from the opera Madame White Snake.  The story was set at the West Lake in Sung dynasty, one day in the rain the young gentleman Xu Xian (left figure) saw two pretty girl at the pier and offered the umbrella to them leading to the romance of the story.  Earlier on, Xu Xian rescued a white snake, it was moved and fell in love with Xu.  The white snake transformed herself into Bai (white – right figure) Su Zhen and together with her friend Qing Qing (green – middle figure) appeared at the pier.  Under her magical spell, Xu fell in love with Bai.  As time goes by, many strange incident happened because of Bai and Qing.  Xu Xian was approached by monk Fa Hai who told him the truth about his wife being a serpent spirit and gave him a monk’s bowl.  As Xu Xian place the bowl over his wife’s head, Bai and Qing returned to their original selves.  Monk Fa Hai took the bowl with the two spirits and build a Lei Feng pagoda on top of them.

Click here to see other craft items featuring decoration on the story of Madame White Snake.

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

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W600 X H170mm, China

A opera theme wood block print – Votive Offering in Xianshang.

The story is about princess Miao Shang, the youngest daughter of ruler of the Miao kingdom.  Miao Shang had an unhappy marriage and decided to become a nun.  The ruler hated this idea of his own daughter, the royal princess, becoming a nun. He struck a deal with her, if the flowers she planted on a rocky cliff in chilly October could blossom she would be allowed to start her training.  Miraculously the cliff was blooming with flowers that October, Miao Shang departed for her journey of Buddhism.  The ruler was not at all happy and summoned for her returned, she ignored all his requests.  Years later, the ruler got very sick, the doctors prescribed a odd dose of medicine which required a close relative’s eye and hand to be added the mixture.  The two elder sisters refused, when Miao Shang heard about the news she rushed back and sacrificed an eye and a hand for her father.  Soon after the ruler recovered she left for her training again.  Unable to see his beloved daughter, the ruler ordered for the monastery to be burnt.  On her escape, Miao Shang’s route was blocked by a tiger while the army was just behind her, unwilling to abandon her training she gave herself up to the tiger which swallowed her in one gulp.  Miao Shang woke up inside a cave in Xianshang, there she started meditating.  When the ruler finally found her in the cave she has already turned into the Avalokitsevara (the bodhisattva with a thousand hands and a thousand eye).  Since then, the ruler would bring votive offering to Xianshang every year.

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

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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W270 X H400mm, China

This pair of wood block print is not about blessings but scene from a opera story “Return to Jing Zhou”, set in the 3 Kingdom Period.
Click here for the full story about Return to Jing Zhou and a print from the Yangliuqing school of the same theme.

What is interesting about this print is the carving, 明正德九年雍山老人藏板 (stamp collected by old man of Yongshan in the year 1515 of the Ming dynasty) on the stamp.  It is unlikely that the prints were made by the stamp collected in Ming dynasty but from a duplication of it.  What these prints offer is a glimpse of the opera in the Ming dynasty and are often refer to in the historical theater research.

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

MOUNTAIN FOLKCRAFT
CHINESE WOOD BLOCK PRINT COLLECTION

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.

W100xH120mm, China

Apology for not blogging for the last few days.  The blog is back on again!

Knife-Horse-Man is the name for artifice whose subject is based on war based stories or opera.  K-H-M can be found in paintings, illustration of ceramics down to folk toys like these.  Some of the clay K-H-M figures can be as tall as 600mm, it is believed that they are able to protect the household.