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Chinese Snuff Bottle Discussion Forum 中國鼻煙壺討論論壇
December 01, 2021, 12:38:05 am
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Scholarly Pursuits as a Theme

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Author Topic: Scholarly Pursuits as a Theme  (Read 96 times)
Wattana
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« on: July 31, 2021, 02:49:41 am »

SCHOLARLY PURSUITS DEPICTED IN ART

Hi All,
Some of the themes seen on the bottles presented at our meeting last Friday may be explained in this extract from “Arts from the Scholar’s Studio”, the catalogue of an exhibition presented by the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1986.

In particular, I’m thinking of YT’s bottle depicting a scholar and his attendant holding a qin, which was described as being the story of Yu Boya. https://snuffbottle.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4335.0/msg,58698.html
Of course, the lapidary may well have had Yu Boya in mind when carving the bottle. But the scene could equally be No. 6 of the scholarly pursuits listed below. The Sancai tuhiu would have been familiar to artisans during the Qing dynasty, some of which were the inspiration for porcelain wares as well as snuff bottles. 

The Sancai tuhui, an encyclopedia written in 1607, contains a series of woodblock illustrations covering the leisure pursuits of the scholar gentleman. They include the following activities:

1.   Discussing metaphysics – in which two scholars sit deep in conversation
2.   Calling one’s attendant – where the servant is bringing his master fresh books, scrolls, and other equipment for the scholar to continue his meditational reading and pondering
3.   Gazing at the moon – where two scholars contemplate the moon emerging from clouds, and silently enjoy sharing the experience, after which they may be inspired to write a poem
4.   Watching the waterfall – in which two sages enjoy a similar experience watching a waterfall
5.   Writing on a rock face – where a sage is about to inscribe an overhanging cliff, while an attendant at his side holds an inkstone with freshly ground ink
6.   Carrying the qin – this scene depicts a scholar strolling, while his attendant follows, carrying the instrument, its angled disposition a significant part of the art of carrying a qin
7.   Passing the wine-cup – this depicts two seated scholars, one of whom offers the other a wine-cup, the wine freeing the intellect’s capacity for inspiration
8.   Reciting while drunk – a related subject, where a lone scholar sits on a mat, holding a scroll in one hand while he recites poetry aloud
9.   Sitting – another charming pastime where the scholar sits in contemplative repose
10.   Leaning against a tree – in the same vein as the previous activity (this is my favourite, as it appears to be so completely pointless to the uenlightened!)
11.   Picking lingzhi – where the scholar is depicted strolling through the countryside with his attendant, collecting the fungus of immortality
 
All of these ‘activities’ are directly aimed at self-realization, where the conscience is inwardly rather than outwardly orientated. Of course, there are many more obvious activities, such as playing the qin, composing poetry, and writing calligraphy on various objects such as leaves and fans.

So, in conclusion, I feel that Giovanni's comments are correct - unless there are specific attributes or text linking a scholarly scene to a particular personage, the scene is open to interpretation.

Tom
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rpfstoneman
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2021, 10:49:04 am »


Giovanni and Tom,

Thanks for the reminder to keep our overzealous enthusiasm of going down a research path in check.   Cheesy 

Also, appreciate the “Arts from the Scholar’s Studio” reference.  Was not aware of this text.

Charll 
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

Joey
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2021, 04:49:10 pm »

Dear Tom,

    I've copied the material to help me with cataloguing.
And Charll is correct that we need to curb enthusiasm a bit;
which could have helped me with my mistaken attribution of my jade SB with guy venerating Rock,
that I thought was Wang Xizhi when it was Mifu.
Best,
joey
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Joey Silver, collecting snuff bottles since Feb.1970

richy88
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2021, 09:19:44 pm »

Hi all

I agreed with all of you that some of these subjects are too generic to pinpoint to a specific person or story as they are too common in the Chinsed art presentation.

Take for example, a lady in a garden scene can be anything and not specifically related to say, The Dream of the Red Chamber.

So, let's be more objective and do not jump into conclusion too quickly unless there was a significant object/person/symbol/background in the design to clearly identify it.

Regards.



Richard
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YT
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2021, 09:31:10 pm »

SCHOLARLY PURSUITS DEPICTED IN ART

Hi All,
Some of the themes seen on the bottles presented at our meeting last Friday may be explained in this extract from “Arts from the Scholar’s Studio”, the catalogue of an exhibition presented by the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1986.

In particular, I’m thinking of YT’s bottle depicting a scholar and his attendant holding a qin, which was described as being the story of Yu Boya. https://snuffbottle.smfforfree.com/index.php/topic,4335.0/msg,58698.html
Of course, the lapidary may well have had Yu Boya in mind when carving the bottle. But the scene could equally be No. 6 of the scholarly pursuits listed below. The Sancai tuhiu would have been familiar to artisans during the Qing dynasty, some of which were the inspiration for porcelain wares as well as snuff bottles. 

The Sancai tuhui, an encyclopedia written in 1607, contains a series of woodblock illustrations covering the leisure pursuits of the scholar gentleman. They include the following activities:

1.   Discussing metaphysics – in which two scholars sit deep in conversation
2.   Calling one’s attendant – where the servant is bringing his master fresh books, scrolls, and other equipment for the scholar to continue his meditational reading and pondering
3.   Gazing at the moon – where two scholars contemplate the moon emerging from clouds, and silently enjoy sharing the experience, after which they may be inspired to write a poem
4.   Watching the waterfall – in which two sages enjoy a similar experience watching a waterfall
5.   Writing on a rock face – where a sage is about to inscribe an overhanging cliff, while an attendant at his side holds an inkstone with freshly ground ink
6.   Carrying the qin – this scene depicts a scholar strolling, while his attendant follows, carrying the instrument, its angled disposition a significant part of the art of carrying a qin
7.   Passing the wine-cup – this depicts two seated scholars, one of whom offers the other a wine-cup, the wine freeing the intellect’s capacity for inspiration
8.   Reciting while drunk – a related subject, where a lone scholar sits on a mat, holding a scroll in one hand while he recites poetry aloud
9.   Sitting – another charming pastime where the scholar sits in contemplative repose
10.   Leaning against a tree – in the same vein as the previous activity (this is my favourite, as it appears to be so completely pointless to the uenlightened!)
11.   Picking lingzhi – where the scholar is depicted strolling through the countryside with his attendant, collecting the fungus of immortality
 
All of these ‘activities’ are directly aimed at self-realization, where the conscience is inwardly rather than outwardly orientated. Of course, there are many more obvious activities, such as playing the qin, composing poetry, and writing calligraphy on various objects such as leaves and fans.

So, in conclusion, I feel that Giovanni's comments are correct - unless there are specific attributes or text linking a scholarly scene to a particular personage, the scene is open to interpretation.

Tom

Dear Tom and Charll,

My enthusiasm comes with hard facts as posted in the original thread.

Great to have built up research on this bottle and having SanCai TuHui as backup in bottles where no stories of interest can be found.  Roll Eyes

Cheers,
YT
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rpfstoneman
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2021, 10:16:24 pm »


YT, not judging your call at all on the bottle presented.  I was just relating to Tom comments, for I have myself more than a few times have threaded down the wrong research path and miss applying what I found to a bottle description.  When it comes to Chinese 'stuff' most of you here know a hell of a lot more than I do, and all your constructive comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Charll
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Charll K Stoneman, Eureka, California USA, Collector Since 1979.

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