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Chinese Monkey King in Jade

The monkey is a common subject in Chinese art… these two carvings represent the most famous monkey in Asia…

His name is Sun Wu-Kong or the ‘Monkey King’… he is an important character in the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West…( Wikipedia has a wonderful synopsis). Patricia Welch in her book,  Chinese Art, Tuttle Publishing, says:  "his most famous antic is stealing the peaches of immortality" (from the humans).

These two jade carvings are great examples of very different styles of carving. The pale lavender-green jadeite monkey with peach shows marks that indicate early 20th century carving …the lines are clean, crisp and slightly exaggerated.

The white jade monkey is probably 18th century, treadle carved, all the surfaces feel like silk… this is a piece that has been fondled by human hands for many, many years on a scholars’ desk or hanging from his waist sash,,, a piece that has been loved and still is!

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3 Comments

  1. Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Oh, goodness, these are absolutely lovely, Susan. I especially adore the Monkey King, with that inquisitive face of his. Now I must read Journey to the West! Thank you for that recommendation.

    Have you seen or read the book Confucius Jade by Frederick Fisher? It revolves around a jade carving of Shou-Xing Lao – Chinese God of longevity. The story is told from the perspective of a female descendant of Confuscius and a jade carver in her own right. It’s a lovely ‘gem’ of a book (please pardon the pun) written by a gemologists and world traveler. It’s definitely worth a read just for its own sake, but the jade carving slant is of great interest and quite well done.

    Thanks again for posting these! Time to go look at more of your offerings! =)

  2. Susan
    Posted April 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Molly… noticed that the author you recommended was 88 years old … goes to show that it is never too late!!!

  3. Posted April 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Exactly, Susan! And he’s about to publish another novel! Inspirational. =)

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