Monday, 9 January 2017

Year of the Rooster

Once again, the lunar new year is around the corner. This year is the year of the rooster, a good year for those who are born in the year of the horse (1894, 1954, 2014, etc), plenty of cash and fortune (read from papers).

Paper cutting of a rooster
In the area where I live, many vendors put up tents for the exhibition-cum-sale of new year goodies from cookies to art-n-craft things. Usually the open-air stores will be opened until the last day before the near year, the new year eve.

This one selling art-n-craft things

This one selling new year decorating items

This one selling flowers

Another selling art-n-craft things

I am not too keen on cookies and food stuff. As usual I will throng the art-n-craft things on display, looking for good buys. All these stores are run by people from China where they can get their stuff easily. Things like vases, paintings, furniture, figurines, etc, are on display. As the days pass, the things will get cheaper and cheaper. The vendors do not want to ship the things back to China (doesn't make sense) once the festive season is over. Moreover, they also want to go home to spend the new year with their families.

This year the art-n-craft things on display are not that interesting. The vases are very common and are mostly mass produced. Eventually I settled on some stones and tea ware. These are what I was able to buy at a reasonable price.


Fortune tree

This year is bad for business due to global recession. The vendors worry that the sale may not be fantastic as compare to last year. But I believe that the things they brought in are not attractive. The buyers have a higher expectation and they usually don't part with their money easily. Of course unless the things they see are unique and interesting.

Anyway the tea ware suits me well as I have always wanted a bigger place to brew my tea. The two stones look funny and interesting. One has features that resemble high mountains while the other with features that look like a tree, money bearing tree; plenty of cash and fortune this year.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Sage of Tea

Lu Yu  is respected as the Sage of Tea for his contribution to Chinese tea culture. He is best known for his famous book The Classic of Tea, the first work of its kind on the cultivating, making and drinking of tea.

Modern Statue of Lu Yu
Lu was born in 733 in Tianmen, Hubei. For six years Lu Yu studied under the master Zou Fuzi. During this period Lu Yu often brewed tea for his teacher and fellow students with his remarkable knowledge in tea and herbs that he learned.
Lu Yu often went to the countryside to gather tea leaves and herbs. Once he stumbled upon a spring underneath a 6-foot round rock and the water from the spring was extremely clear and clean. He brewed tea with this spring water he found the tea tasted unexpectedly better than usual. From then on Lu Yu realised the importance of quality water in brewing tea.
Zou Fuzi was moved by Lu Yu's obsession with tea and his skill in brewing good tea. He cleared the rock together with some of his students and dug a well around the fountainhead of that spring. In 1768, just over a thousand years later during the Qing Dynasty (1616–1911), Jingling was hit by drought and the whole city was badly in need of water. City folks found water still flowing from this well discovered by Lu Yu and dug by Zou Fuzi. A Qing official ordered three wells to be dug around the spring, and a structure constructed near the wells named "Lu Yu Hut" and the "Literary Spring".
In 752 Lu Yu concluded his studies, bade farewell to his shifu (teacher) Zou Fuzi and returned to Jingling. He befriended Cui Goufu, a senior officer at Jinglin, and assisted him in his administrative tasks. The two men spent much time travelling, drinking tea and writing poems and they co-authored several books on poems. Cui Goufu, with his vast experience and skill in literary work, became a coach to Lu Yu and provided him the necessary guidance to enhance and mature his writing and literary skills. During this time Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea.
The original version of The Classic of Tea consisted of 3 books covering 10 chapters in total; book 1 consisted of the first 3 chapters, book 2 consisted of chapter 4 only, book 3 consisted of chapters 5 to 10. After the Tang Dynasty all three books were bound into a single one and the three volumes version was no longer available.
A statue of Lu Yu in Xian, China

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Inside painting of cat

Recently bought an IP bottle with painting of cats.

Cats watching a bee

Cat and fruits

Details of artist enclosed:

Thursday, 3 November 2016

IP bottles

Two inside painted bottles in my possession. Look at the delicate brush work. It is really amazing how the artist did it.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Flower and bird IP bottles

Recently I collected a couple of inside painted bottles. Here are 2 that showed flowers and birds. The art work is superb, must have taken the artists quite some time to paint the picture, through a small opening of the bottles. Inside painting requires both skills and patient, a good eye sight is fundamental as the artists need to focus in order to paint the details.

Once a renown artist (Zhao ShouAng, a famous LinNan style artist) was shown the process of inside painting, he marveled at the skills and talent of the inside painting artist. He remarked that although he can paint landscapes and portraits, he would have difficulty painting them in a reverse manner, especially through a small opening of the bottle.

Painted in 1996

Let's pay tribute to all inside painting artists who enrich our lives by producing art in such a miniature form that we can not only admire it but physically handle it as well. We can bring this art form wherever we go and not worry that it may be damaged.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Inside painted bottle

An inside-painted snuff bottle with Chinese style landscape,

The landscape painting was simple yet pleasing to the eye. If you like Chinese paintings, a good way to appreciate Chinese art is to collect these small bottles. Many artistic subjects can be painted inside these bottles. They are easy to keep and store and don't take up a lot of space for display. As the paintings are created inside the bottle, they will be protected against the harsh weather and damage from rough handling. The traditional paintings on paper do require a large room for display and they don't like the climate in Singapore.

You can build up your own art gallery and enjoy these miniature paintings at your free time. A good way to relax.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Animal Bone Snuff Bottle

Recently I was window-shopping in Orchard Road, a busy shopping street in Singapore. I saw a couple of snuff bottles on a display tray at the front window of a jewelry shop. There was one made of jadeite that caught my attention ( it has traces of green shades). They are other snuff bottles made of gem materials. There is also one little snuff bottle (top left corner) that looks pretty good with the carving of bird and flowers. I even thought that it was made from ivory (milky color).

Display tray showing some cute snuff bottles
At first, I was not very keen to ask for the price as things on display in a jewelry shop in Orchard Road don't really come cheap. Just imagine the rental these guys pay for a shop in this exclusive area (tourists like to frequent this place).

After making a few rounds in the vicinity, I went back to the shop and decided to try my luck. I went in with a pretext of buying a gift for a friend and there was a tight budget to consider. The shop owner took out the tray from the window display and I had the chance of taking a closer look (even touch) at every item on the tray. The jade bottle was far too expensive, 8000 dollars. The one that looks like glass (bottom 3rd from left) was even more expensive, $13000. The owner told me it was made from green beryl, an expensive gem.

Then when I asked him about the one with bird and flower carving, he told me the price. It was one that I can afford. He then told me that it was not made from ivory but some kind of animal bone. He himself did not know what bone it was. I looked at the carving, it was of good quality. I believed nowadays no one would have the incentive (or talent) to create such a beautiful piece. For the price he quoted me, it was worth it. Snuff bottles were things of the past, this one could have some historical value.

Snuff Bottle with carving
I told him my intention was to buy it for a friend as a birth day gift and I had a certain budget for it. As most of the snuff bottles were very costly, I could only afford this particular one. I did not want to over-stretched myself in buying the gift. I also told him that if the discount was good, I would pay for it in cash (not credit card). After a few rounds of bargaining, I got a discount of 20% for it.

In the business of buying and selling art artifacts, both the buyer and seller must have some story to tell. This will ensure that the deal can go through. At the end of the day, I was happy that I finally got something that I wanted.