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Chinese Arts - Handicrafts
Bamboo Objects 竹刻器文物

Bamboo (zhu 竹) and wood are the oldest natural materials that mankind uses to make tools of. But bamboo has several advantages to wood: it grows much faster, it is very light and is flexible and stable at the same time (making it possible to construct houses or even bridges). The natural beauty of bamboo timber of course is also used in Chinese art. On the other side, the fixed shape of the bamboo as a hollow tube is not sufficient enough to give free shapes to an art object. Chinese artists invented a technique that is not very known outside of China: The inner side of the bamboo tubes is covered with a thin, patterned skin that can be torn off. Sticked to the surface of a wooden object, this can be given the color and pattern of bamboo, making it look like made of bamboo. This technique is called tiehuang 貼黃 ("sticked yellow").
Bamboo arm rests, Qing A bamboo tree's diameter can be up to 15 cm, the thickness of the outer side up to almost 2 cm. These two Qing time 清 arm rests are segments of a bamboo tube. They are carved with motifs of fishes playing in the waves and coins decorates with silk bands, both representing wealth and richness.
Bamboo lampion, Qing Chinese housing decoration lays great stress upon wonderful lanterns like this one made of bamboo, decorated with pending thread bundles. The more popular shape is a round one, made of red material or paper.
Bamboo brush container by Zhang Xihuang, Ming A very simple example of a brush container made from bamboo tubes. The nodia of the bamboo tree make it possible to have sides and bottom for the vessel without hollowing it. The outer surface shows a landscape with a pavillion. The container was made by the Ming time 明 artist Zhang Xihuang 張希黃.
Bamboo brush container, QingBamboo brush container, Qing These two brush containers are made from the lower part of a bamboo plant, just above the earth. At this point, nodia are very near and have knots where branches had come out. The artist who made the left example has smoothened the surface, but he choosed a curved part to give his object a special taste. Both examples date from the Qing Dynasty.
Neo-antique bamboo colour YOU vessel of wood, Qing While the upper parts of the bamboo plant have tube shape, the roots of bamboo can be used like root wood of a tree. This object is shaped after an antique bronze vessel type called you 卣. Corpus, cover and handle are entirely made of bamboo and decorated with the patterns of antique model.
Bamboo colour pot of wood, Qing Also made of bamboo root, this Qing time pot with a chain handle radiates a soft and warm character.
Bamboo brush container, Qing Very funny is this example of a bamboo root brush container in the shape of a cabbage.
Bamboo colour buffaloo made of wood, Qing Two people playing with a water buffalo. Also made of bamboo root, this wood is much darker than the last example. Both were made during the Qing Dynasty.
Figure of coloured bamboo, Qing This object of bamboo root shows a wise man standing under a pine tree. The bamboo wood itself is darkened and thus looks a if it were pine wood.
Figure of a toad in bamboo colour, Qing As a last example of bamboo root objects, a toad is presented to the left, sitting on a dark wooden base. In Chinese mythology, a toad is sitting in the moon and symbolizing also the cycle of the years. Often, it is shown with coins or gold ingots according to the New Year's wishes for wealth.
Bamboo box, Qing This is the first example of a wooden object covered with bamboo skin. The main box is minutioulsy carved with flowers and the Chinese character for "spring" 春. Inside the box are four small boxes, every one decorated with a character. The whole set, covered with the light coloured bamboo skin, is standing on a contrasting black wooden base.
Bamboo box, Qing Two interlocked boxes make this wonderful bamboo skin covered box from the Qing Dynasty. It is carved with flower patterns.
Bamboo colour hat stand of wood, Qing Made of wood and covered with bamboo skin is this Qing time hat stand. The base has the shape of clouds and the mythical mushroom. The upper part, shaped like the hat itself, has the pattern of flower petals. Parts of the object are inlaid with colored ivory.
Neo-antique bamboo colour GU vessel of wood, Qing Copying antique vessel types was very popular during the Qing Dynasty. But instead of using bronze to cast them (a technique that was out of use since the Han Dynasty 漢), Qing artists used a wide range of materials to form the wonderful old types. The left example is a vessel type called gu (or fanggu 方觚, because it is quadrangular), made of wood and covered with bamboo skin. The decoration does not follow the old patterns but is thoroughly modern with its flowers.
Neo-antique bamboo colour DING vessel of wood as burner, Qing Having the shape of an antique ding 鼎 vessel, additionally covered with a black wood cover, this wooden vessel is a kind of stove. The outer surface is covered with bamboo skin, giving it the soft and warm character of this material instead of cold and dark metal.
Bamboo brush container, Qing Not even the bamboo skin makes this quadrangular brush container make look as made of bamboo. Very special is the quadrangular shape itself as well as the decoration with scale-like patterns that are very unique in Chinese art. The scales in their whole make the vessel look as made of many quadrangular bamboo trees. The end of the scales look like the bamboo nodia.
Bamboo snuff bottle, Qing This bottle should contain tobacco powder. Carved with clouds and the symbol for longevity, it is covered with bamboo skin to give it a light color.
Bamboo colour vase of wood, Qing A wooden flower vase from the Qing Dynasty, covered with bamboo skin after it has been carved with motifs of different flowers.

  © 2000 ff · Ulrich Theobald · Mail